Jnanpith Award to Amitav Ghosh, the first writer in English to get the honour

Jnanpith Award is the highest honour for Indian writers in the field of literature. Earlier it was given to writers who contributed in Indian languages only.

Amitav Ghosh (Left) with Bacha Karkaria and Gulzar in an event (Image tweeted by Ghosh)

Amitav Ghosh has won the 54th Jnanpith award this year for his contribution to literature. He is among 58 awardees who has been honoured with the award. Although, the award is given to one person every year there are exceptions when the award has been shared with two literary giants in the same year.

In 2009, the award was shared with Amarkant and Shrilal Shukla, in 2006 the award was distributed between Satya Vrat Shastri for Sanskrit and Ravindra Kelkar for Konkani and in 1999, Nirmal Verma for Hindi and Gurdial Singh for Punjabi had received the award, in 1973 Gopinath Mohanty for Oriya and D. R. Bendre for Kannada were jointly awarded. In 1967, K, V. Puttappa for Kannada and Uma Shankar Joshi for Gujarati had received the award. The first award was given to G. S. Kurup for his contributions in Malyalam literature.

The Bharatiya Jnanpith’s statement made note of the ‘extraordinary depth and substance’ of his fiction, and his capacity to create a space where the past connects with the present”. It is the first time since its beginning that Jnanpith is awarded to a writer in English language.

In a tweet, Ghosh responded that he was ‘honoured and humbled’ to be on the list with the writers whom he most admires.

In the list of Jnanpith awardees are literary giants Firaq Gorakhpuri, R. S. Dinkar, Maha Devi Verma, Amrita Pritam, UR Ananthamurthy, Shrilal Shukla.

“Congratulations to @GhoshAmitav on winning the #JnanpithAward 2018. I have fond memories of your stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan as a part of the ‘In Residence’ programme,” former President Pranab Mukherjee tweeted.

The decision to honour Mr. Ghosh was taken at a meeting of the Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by novelist and Jnanpith laureate Pratibha Ray.

Ghosh’s novels include Shadow Lines , The Glass Palace , The Hungry Tide , and the Ibis trilogy — Sea of Poppies , River of Smoke , and Flood of Fire — discussing the opium trade between India and China run by the East India Company.

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