Indian English writer (first time for English) Amitav Ghosh chosen for Njanpith Award 2018
The Kolkata-born English writer, Amitav Ghosh has been chosen by the Government of India for this year’s prestigious Jnanpith Award. This is for the first time that this prestigious award is being conferred on Indian English writer. Winners of Jnanpith Award, 58 of them, that includes, Krishna Sobti, Shrilal Shukla, Kedarnath Singh, Nirmal Verma, Girish Karnad, Mahasweta Devi, Amrita Pritam and UR Ananthamurthy were all in other Indian languages. This goes to show that Indian English has been accepted as Indian language.
A statement issued by Bharatiya Jnanpith said, “Amitav Ghosh is a path- breaking novelist. In his novels, Ghosh treads through historical settings to the modern era and weaves a space where the past connects with the present in relevant ways. His fiction is endowed with extraordinary depth and substance through his academic training as a historian and a social anthropologist,” a statement from Bharatiya Jnanpith read.”
The statement further said that the decision to choose Ghosh was taken in a meeting of the Jnanpith Selection Board, chaired by renowned novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate, Prathiba Ray. Yesterday, after the announcement, Amitav Ghosh took to Tweeter: “I am truly honoured and humbled. Thank you. This is an amazing day for me. I never thought I would find myself on this list, with some of the writers I most admire.”
In addition to the Jnanpith, the veteran author has also bagged several awards and accolades including Padma Shri and the Sahitya Akademi Award. Established in 1961, the Bharatiya Jnanith recognises Indian literateurs who write in one of the 22 Indian languages listed in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Amitav Ghosh, though, born in 1956 at Kolkata, nevertheless, he grew up in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. His education was from Delhi and moved out to the UK to pursue higher education in Oxford University and later to Alexandria. Known for his works such as, The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Thungry Tide and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire, the author had come a full circle with his latest non-fiction being, Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, released in 2016.
For his book, The Circle of Reason, Amitav Ghosh received France’s Prix Médicis Award in 1990, and for The Shadow Lines he won two prestigious Indian prizes the same year, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome fetched Ghosh the Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997 and The Glass Palace too helped him win the International e-Book Award at the Frankfurt book Fair in 2001. In January 2005 The Hungry Tide, made him Ghoshi receiving the Crossword Book Prize, a prestigious Indian award. Although Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies (2008) got shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2008 nevertheless, the book got the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award.
Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated in excess of 35 languages. What is more, Ghosh had served on the Jury of the Locarno Film Festival (Switzerland) and the Venice Film Festival (2001). The writer’s essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New Republic and The New York Times, while his essays have been published by Penguin India (The Imam and the Indian) and Houghton Mifflin the US (Incendiary Circumstances). Amitav Ghosh has taught in many Indian and American universities such as Delhi University, Columbia, Queens College and Harvard. In January 2007 Amitav Ghosh was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honours, by the President of India. In 2010, Ghosh had also been conferred with honorary doctorates by Queens College, New York, and the Sorbonne, Paris. In 2014 the intellectual was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Puget Sound. Along with Margaret Atwood, Amitav Ghosh was also a joint winner of a Dan David Award for 2010. In 2011 the English writer was awarded the International Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis Festival in Montreal. Last, but not the least, the most recent book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, was awarded the inaugural Utah Award in the Environmental Humanities in 2018. The journey continues, as India had lauded her son with one more coveted award, in the form of Jnanpith and to take loan from Robert Miles, “Miles to go before you sleep”, wish you Amitav Da…excellent health and long life…