Jnanpith Award to Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh in Bhubaneswar, 2009

Bhubaneswar: Celebrated author Amitav Ghosh, equally famous for his novels and for not getting the Booker Award, has won the 54th Jnanpith award this year. Bharatiya Jnanpith announced the award yesterday. Ghosh has been chosen for the award for his outstanding contribution towards literature.

Ghosh is the first English writer to be conferred with the Jnanpith award.

In a statement the Bharatiya Jnanpith announced,

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.

The decision was taken in a meeting of Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by eminent novelist, scholar and Jnanpith laureate Dr Pratibha Ray.

For last few years, even before the Man Booker Prize longlist was announced, the guessing game had been started. And off course, it’s Amitav Ghosh, the name that had been making headlines. Unfortunately, he never bagged the award.

Amitav Ghosh’s most famous novel Sea of Poppies first shortlisted for Booker Prize in 2008. That year another Indian young author Aravind Adiga got the award for his debut novel The White Tiger. Later Sea of Poppies was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award.

In 2015 Ghosh was long-listed for Man Booker International Prize.

He was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1956 and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria, has taught at a number of institutions and written for many magazines.

Amitav Ghosh has sold over 4 million books worldwide, with his work translated into more than 30 languages and has won numerous awards. The Circle of Reason was awarded France’s Prix Médicis in 1990, and The Shadow Lines won two prestigious Indian prizes the same year, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosomewon the Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the International e-Book Award at the Frankfurt book fair in 2001. In January 2005 The Hungry Tide was awarded the Crossword Book Prize, a major Indian award.

In January 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honours, by the President of India. In 2010 Amitav Ghosh was awarded honorary doctorates by Queens College, New York, and the Sorbonne, Paris. Along with Margaret Atwood, he was also a joint winner of a Dan David Award for 2010. In 2011 he was awarded the International Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis Festival in Montreal.

Ghosh has 8 novels and 6 volumes of essays to his credit. He divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn.

Ghosh took to twitter after the announcement of the award.

He wrote,

I am truly honored and humbled. 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.

Amitav Ghosh with Odia author Subhransu Panda in Bhubaneswar in 2009

The Jnanpith Award is an Indian literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their “outstanding contribution towards literature”. Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English, with no posthumous conferral.

Odia authors Gopinath Mohanty (1973), Sachidananda Routray (1986), Sitakant Mahapatra (1993) and Pratibha Ray (2011) also won the prestigious award.

Till date 58 authors have received the award. Now the award consists of 11 lacs Indian rupees, a citation and a bronze replica of Vagdevi.

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About the Author

Subhransu Panda
Subhransu Panda, founder and editor of www.odishastory.com, is an author and journalist. After working 10 years as a journalist in Odisha's leading media houses, both print and electronics, he started Odisha Story in 2016. He has 6 Odia books to his credit including 2 novels. He is also heading Odisha's leading publishing house PEN IN Books.