The Hindu Lit for Life 2017

Kiran Doshi wins 'The Hindu Prize 2016'

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks (third from right) presents The Hindu Prize 2016 to Kiran Doshi at the Lit for Life. Director of Kasturi & Sons Ltd., Nirmala Lakshman, (extreme left) and other jury members are seen.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Kiran Doshi, a retired diplomat and educationist from Gujarat, won The Hindu Prize 2016 on Sunday for his third major work of fiction, Jinnah Often Came to Our House, a book set against the political turmoil of the subcontinent from the early part of the 20th century, ending with the Partition and Independence.

Mr. Doshi was among the five authors shortlisted from nearly 60 entries for the seventh edition of the prize. The shortlisted works included Anil Menon’s Half Of What I Say, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s The Adivasi Will Not Dance, Kunal Basu’s Kalkatta and Manjula Padmanabhan’s The Island of Lost Girls.

K. Satchidanandan, a member of the jury, pointed to the manner in which Jinnah Often Came to Our House, with its “unbiased wisdom, corrects all kinds of prejudices about political leaders and religious communities.”

The award —a citation and a cash prize of ₹5 lakh — was given away by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks at the ongoing The Hindu Lit for Life fest organised at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall here.

Presenting the prize, Ms. Brooks said, “I think fiction is critical, and, particularly, when we are facing troubled contemporary times. I know it is important because I have seen how the despots and the jailers fear it. When I was working as a reporter on the West Bank, a young Palestinian boy stoned my car one day and I jumped out and interviewed him. He told me his story, and we became friends. And, when he was arrested and sent to jail, as was almost inevitable in the case of a youngster like him, I tried to send him some books because I knew he loved reading English. I chose [Ernest Hemingway’s] The Old Man and the Sea. The jailers would not allow him to have it. They did not want him to release himself into the freedom of ideas. The jailers and despots fear the power of words.”

 

Accepting the award, Mr. Doshi said his life in cities such as Chennai was “full of events” that triggered his ideas. He said 35 years of diplomacy and ten years of education after that shaped his ideas. Two great inspirations for his works were his life in Pakistan, where he was posted and the “dowry” he received when he married his wife, the writer said.

Earlier on Saturday, contemporary artist Gulamohammed Sheikh inaugurated The Hindu Lit for Life 2017.

“Civilised dialogue seems to have been affected seriously in the past few decades,” Mr. Sheikh said, adding that he was deeply impressed by the “dialogue that took place in a civilised manner” at the literary festival.

‘Head-on engagement’

The Hindu Lit for Life Director Nirmala Lakshman said, “Now, more than ever before, with the continuing assault on freedom of expression, the mushrooming of fundamentalist far-right politics across the globe reflected in the rhetoric of fear politics, social divisions and attack on the ‘other’ in many societies, liberal platforms like these and independent voices need to be strengthened and heard.”

 

“Lit for Life engages with these ideas head-on and I am sure the discussions over the next few days will prove to be stimulating,” she said.

“A festival that comes from The Hindu reflects the same values as that of the newspaper, and, so in our programming, we have attempted to be wide-ranging, inclusive and creative, bringing an arc of ideas and topics for the enjoyment of those who attend the festival,” said Dr. Lakshman.

Looking back on the country’s record in varied areas, Dr. Lakshman said. “Since its inception in 1878, The Hindu has consistently promoted the arts, literature and culture. All great newspapers thrive because of their constant engagement with the great questions of the day, whatever they may, and The Hindu has reflected this not just through the authenticity and credibility of the news and perspectives it produces every day in its columns and pages but also because of the space it allots to books, writing and literature, especially through its supplements.”

The Hindu Group MD and CEO Rajiv C. Lochan and Editor, The Hindu, Mukund Padmanabhan were among the participants.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 7:07:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/Kiran-Doshi-wins-The-Hindu-Prize-2016/article17041541.ece

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