Lit for Life

Lit for Life: The Hindu Prize for 2015 goes to Easterine Kire

Writer Alexander McCall Smith, writer, presents The Hindu Prize, 2015, to Nagaland writer Easterine Kire at the Lit for Life festival in Chennai on Saturday. Photo: V. Ganesan

Writer Alexander McCall Smith, writer, presents The Hindu Prize, 2015, to Nagaland writer Easterine Kire at the Lit for Life festival in Chennai on Saturday. Photo: V. Ganesan   | Photo Credit: V_GANESAN -

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When the River Sleeps is an exploration of the Naga spirit universe.

Easterine Kire, poet, novelist and children’s writer from Nagaland, won The Hindu Prize, 2015, for her novel When the River Sleeps, a book about a lone hunter seeking a faraway river, to take from it a stone that will give him untold powers.

Ms. Kire was one of the six authors shortlisted from nearly 60 entries for the sixth edition of the prize. The shortlisted books included Amit Chaudhuri’s Odysseus Abroad; Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire; Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter; Janice Pariat’s Seahorse and Siddharth Chowdhury’s The Patna Manual of Style.

K. Satchidanandan, one of the judges, described When the River Sleeps as “a sample of how the mythopoeic imagination can work in our times”.

The award — a citation and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh — was given away by author Alexander McCall Smith on Saturday at the ongoing Lit for Life event organised by The Hindu at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Chetpet.

Ms. Kire said the book was an exploration of the Naga spirit universe.

An alternative way of life, says Satchidanandan

Kire offers an alternative way of life Mr. Satchidanandan said.

He said Nagaland was almost unexplored in Indian fiction and the book, with its profound symbolism, offered an alternative way of life. “We looked for freshness of content, individual style, innovativeness of the work in contributing to the genre and challenging existing conventions,” he said, adding that while short lists were definitive, the prize was arbitrary.

“Any one or more of these authors could have won the prize,” said Susie Tharu, another judge, explaining that the judging was a difficult process, but that it had been made easier by the fact that no one was passionately invested in any one book.

Ms. Kire read out an excerpt from the novel, describing a scene in which the protagonist and another man escape from a river with the spirits of widowed women chasing after them with spears and curses.

Thanking her editors and publishers, Ms. Kire said, “It’s not really my book — a lot of people embrace it as their book and I want to thank all my beautiful readers.”

The citation said the book was a “tender philosophical novel that speaks to the present moment in India”.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 6:02:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/lit-for-life/Lit-for-Life-The-Hindu-Prize-for-2015-goes-to-Easterine-Kire/article14003138.ece

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