New Delhi, Dec 15: Former India cricketer VVS Laxman's autobiography '281 And Beyond' bagged the Best Autobiography of the Year (2019) Award at the second edition of the Ekamra Sports Literature Festival.
The two-day sports lit fest concluded on with a grand ceremony after the announcement of the First Sports Books Awards of India. The awards drew an overwhelming response from authors, publishers and sports fans.
The Ekamra Sports Book Awards in as many as six categories were announced. The jury comprised senior editors and academicians who shortlisted submissions received from various publishing houses.
Winners of First-ever sports book awards:
Cricket Book of the Year - Wizards: The Story of Indian Spin Bowling by Anindya Dutta. Published by Westland
Sports Book of the Year - Cricket Country: The Untold History of the First All India Team Cricket by Prashant Kidambi. Published by Penguin Viking
Autobiography of the Year - 281 & Beyond by VVS Laxman and R Kaushik. Published by Westland Sport
Biography of the Year - Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder by Bishweshwar Nandi, Digvijay Singh Deo, Vimal Mohan. Published by Fingerprint Publishing
Outstanding Sports Book Award - No Ball: The Murky World of Match Fixing by Chandramohan Puppala. Published by Pan Macmillan India
Speaking on the occasion Shireen Sethi, Director of Ekamra Sports Literature Festival said, "The second season of the Ekamra Sports Lit Fest had some extremely engaging sessions with prominent authors, bestselling books and the first-ever sports awards being presented. "The next edition in 2020 would focus to bring in more sportswriters from India and abroad, and with it bring in varied experiences, stories from across the sporting spectrum. We look forward to looking at more sports-oriented books but in the genre beyond biographies and autobiographies."
The second day of Ekamra Sports Literature Festival began with a discussion on Athletes turned Politicians. Panellist Kirti Azad, a member of 1983 World Cup-winning Indian cricket team, said politics offers a platform for sportspersons to give back to the game. Participating in the discussion Dilip Tirkey, former Indian Hockey Captain, spoke of the transformation to a politician from the gruelling field of sports. They said being a sportsperson and serving people as a politician are filled with uncertainties and at the same time, are challenging.
The most emotional and controversial session of the day was about a book authored by Canadian Cyclist Kristen Worley titled Woman Enough. Worley, a transgender sportsperson, said the physical transition from one gender to another was painful and terrifying. She said life takes a different turn . She said she endured many odds and even won court cases to participate in cycling and won there too.
The unusual session was on the Billion Dollar Industry with participants from sports management companies such as JSW Sports, Go Sport, Meraki Sports, Baseline Ventures. The panellists spoke of the challenges of nurturing sports talent and the need for better coordination within the eco-system of Federations, state governments, management agencies, Foundations and athletes.
Post lunch session started with a discussion on the book " Fortune Turners" by Aditya Bhushan and Sachin Bajaj with a special guest appearance of former spinner Rajinder Goel. He delighted the audience with anecdotes of the magic spells by bowlers of yesteryears. He described how cricket changed over time in every aspect while the author spoke about the importance of remembering the legends of cricket.
Crowd favourite and Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka who won several awards for his debut book Chinaman spoke about cricket in Srilanka and the life around its including politics. He said that cricket in Srilanka was no longer an exclusive club. Cricket is well catalogued these days he said. While discussing Chinaman, Shehan said though people say his book makes readers like cricket, it is not necessary that those who read books go to see cricket and those who go to see cricket love to read books.
Sports and politics in India and Srilanka are the same according to him, but he felt that in India the situation is better. Asked about how he is feeling now after switching to write children's books from writing books like Chinaman, Shehan said that he has to do a lot of research and it was tougher to find a publisher ten years ago for Chinaman but that it was easier with children's books.
The final session of the day was on the book "Border's Battlers" a thrilling book on world's only twice- tied- up cricket match in the word that happened between India and Australia at Madras. The narration involved the umpire Vikramraju who raised his finger to dismiss Maninder Singh to the much agony of the Indian team which otherwise would have won if he didn't.
Reminiscing about the match, Vikramraju, now in his eighties, said he did what had to be done at that point of time. He still believes it was the right decision. The author of the book Michael Sexton, who came in all the way from Australia, described how the elaborate research required for the book and his experiences of interviewing the players involved.
While receiving the prize of Best Sports publisher of the year for Westland Publishers, VK Karthika said that there is a lot of scope for sports fiction like that of Chinaman written by Shehan Karunatilaka ten years ago.