Highest literary honour for Manoj Das

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FEATHER IN HIS CAP: Manoj Das waiting to receive the award at a programme in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
FEATHER IN HIS CAP: Manoj Das waiting to receive the award at a programme in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

Staff Reporter

Sahitya Akademi Fellowship conferred on illustrious writer

  • He believes in literature that is inspired, not invented
  • Says he draws inspiration from language of silence

    BHUBANESWAR: Noted writer Manoj Das said that the language of silence inspired him in most for his writings. Mr. Das was at his humble best when he received the country's highest literary honour - Sahitya Akademi Fellowship - here on Thursday.

    Addressing a galaxy of writers and intellectuals here, the eminent storyteller said: "Once a leading English literary magazine asked which language inspired me the most. After a few thoughts, I said it was the language of silence. I think I improved upon this language."

    Mr. Das said he believed in literature that was inspired but not invented. "Honouring a person who has not written a story in the past 12 years means that the akademi has decided to honour an inspiration, not a creator of literature," the country's foremost bi-lingual writer said.

    Crisp style

    His humbleness was vindicated when Sahitya Akademi quoted Vijay Tendulkar, a famous Indian writer, in the citation: "Manoj Das, like Graham Greene and R.K Narayan, is a deft spinner of yarns.

    He is also crisp in his style and very much at ease with English, which is not his mother tongue. Narrating an Indian experience in a language, which is alien or not Indian, without losing the original Indian charm and ethos is difficult task. Das succeeds in this like Narayan."

    Scholars the world over found in his short stories and novels, Indian ethos at its authentic best and he was acknowledged as one of the ablest interpreters of Indian literary and cultural heritage, the akademi said.

    It said: "Manoj Das, on whom the Sahitya Akademi confers today its highest honour, declaring him a Fellow of the Akademi, is the most illustrious living fiction-writers of the country."

    With some 40 books in English and an equal number of books in Oriya to his credit, Mr. Das was a recipient of a number of awards, including Padma Shri, Saraswati Samman, Uktal Sahitya Samaj, Sarala Puraskar and Utkal Ratna and D. Litt. from a number of universities.

    Born in Balasore, the coastal district of Orissa, in 1934, the noted writer inspired his fellow writers for over five decades.

    Latest publications

    His works included Temples of India (1970), Stories of Light and Delight (1970), Tales from Many Lands (1972), Persian Tales of Wit and Delight (1972) and A Bride Inside a Casket (1981).

    His latest publications were: The Escapist, `My Little India,

    The Lady Who Died One-and-a-half Times and Other Stories and Chasing the Rainbow.

    The writer teaches English literature as well as works of Sri Aurobindo at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education at Pondicherry.

    "Mr. Das has been effortlessly and spontaneously writing beautiful pieces which have been unique among present generation of writers," Gopi Chand Narang, president of Sahitya Akademi, said in his address.

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