Meenakshi Mukherjee, litterateur, passes away

September 17, 2009 01:04 am | Updated 08:23 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Meenakshi Mukherjee, a renowned litterateur and Sahitya Akademi award winner, died here on Wednesday. She was 72 and is survived by two daughters.

Ms. Mukherjee, on her way to Delhi to release one of her books, collapsed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in the afternoon. Airport authorities said she was to take an Indigo flight, but she fainted at gate 22. She was rushed to the Apollo Medical Centre on the airport premises, but she had breathed her last by then. She was travelling alone. Her relatives and friends who saw her off were still on the airport premises.

Her book, ‘An Indian for all seasons’, a biography of historian R.C. Dutt, published by Penguin, was to be released in Delhi on Thursday.

Ms. Mukherjee received the Sahitya Akademi award in 2003 for her book ‘The Perishable Empire: Essays on Indian Writing in English’. She was chairperson of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies from 2001-2004 and chairperson of its Indian Chapter from 1993-2005.

She taught in a number of colleges in Patna, Pune, and Delhi before joining the University of Hyderabad. Her last and longest spell was as Professor of English in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She was a visiting professor in several universities outside India, including University of Texas at Austin, University of Chicago, University of California at Berkeley, Macquarie University (Sydney), University of Canberra and Flinders University (Adelaide).

She is the author of ‘The Twice Born Fiction’, ‘Realism and Reality: Novel and Society in India’, ‘Re-reading Jane Austen’, and ‘The Perishable Empire’ and had also edited many collections of essays. She was the wife of another litterateur Sujit Mukherjee, who was the Chief Publisher of the Orient Longman.

Expressing grief over the demise of the literary figure and critic, Sachidananda Mohanty, Head, Department of English, University of Hyderabad, said she was one of the most outstanding members of Indian literature. “She was far ahead of her times and paved way for Indian writing in English by her book ‘Twice Born Fiction’ and pioneered a new genre of writing.”

Ms. Mukherjee was the Emeritus Professor at the university apart from being the member of the Academic Council. A condolence meeting will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the University of Hyderabad.

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