The East Indian longlisted for the JCB Prize

Scribe is delighted to share that The East Indian by Brinda Charry has been longlisted for the JCB prize, one of India’s best-known literary awards.

The judges have described the book as, ‘A wonderful look at the formative years of the new world through the eyes of Tony, the son of a Tamil courtesan, as we follow his journey into adulthood. Set in the 1600s, a young Tony leaves what would become Madras for London after the death of his mother. There he is press-ganged into becoming an indentured servant in Virginia, then a new colony of the British in America.

It’s through Tony’s compassion, curiosity, bonds of friendship and yearning to become a physician that this story unfolds — a historical sweep across the perhaps familiar literary terrain of early America, but imagined anew through the experiences of an Indian boy. We are all familiar with the NRI dream and modern aspirations of immigrants, but few of us know just how deeply entwined some Indian lives were with the building of America. Brinda Charry does a remarkable job of painting this world with finely observed brush strokes and individual stories to build an evocative global picture.’

The shortlist will be announced on 20 October.

Congratulations to Brinda and the other longlisted writers! 

The East Indian


Meet Tony: the first Indian to set foot on American soil.

Among the settlers, slaves, and indentured servants that make the treacherous journey across the Atlantic to the New World in the early 1600s — for some, an exciting opportunity, for others, a brutal abduction — there is also Tony. As a child, his homeland on the Coromandel Coast of India becomes a trading outpost for the English; as an orphaned teenager, he finds himself kidnapped from the streets of London and bound to servitude on a Virginia plantation. But Tony is not giving up on his dreams just yet.


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