Books published in the period between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016 were eligible for this year’s awards, which come with an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and a cheque for Rs 1 lakh. The writers will be awarded at a ceremony on January 29, 2019 in New Delhi.

Salim told Matrubhumi that he would not be attending the ceremony to accept the award for his novel. “People need not see me, the author,” he said. “They should only read me.” In the past, Salim was absent from the ceremony for the 2014 Crossword Book Prize as well, which he also won for The Blind Lady’s Descendants. “Be the award small or big, I have decided since the day I gained fame as a writer that I would never go to receive the award,” he told Matrubhumi.

The Sahitya Akademi also revealed winners in the Bhasha Samman categories, awarded to writers and scholars “in recognition of their significant contributions in the field of Classical and Medieval literature and also in Unrecognised languages”. Yogendra Nath Sharma was recognised from the North region, G Venkatasubbiah in the South, Gaganendra Nath Dash in the Eastern and Shailaja Bapat in the Western region.