Benyamin was born 1971 in Nhettur, Kerala. He moved to Bahrain in 1992. Until the age of twenty-one, he knew nothing of literature: "Cricket was my world, better living standards were my aim." When he reached The Gulf, he felt a loneliness that triggered reading and eventually led to writing: "I began with letters to friends. They accepted my words." Today he is an author of over twenty books. Aadujeevitham or Goat Days is his most successful novel and has won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award. He returned from the Middle East to his native state of Kerala in 2013, two years after the Arab revolution ended. A former electrical engineer and now a full-time writer, he lives alone and cooks for himself daily: "I feel, and my friends certify, that I have a talent in it too."

Shahnaz Habib (The Transaltor)


Shahnaz Habib teaches writing at The New School and Bay Path University and consults for the United Nations. Born and raised in Kerala, she now lives in New York. When she had just started working on Jasmine Days in Kerala, it attracted much attention. "What is it like to translate Benyamin?" she was often asked. "As a first-time translator, I found this auspicious and intimidating in equal measure," was her response.

The JCB Prize 2018 Shortlist