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Amitav Ghosh feted with 54th Jnanpith Award for 'contribution to literature'

Ghosh, the first English writer to be honoured with the award, said he constantly draws from Bangla for his works.

ET Online and Agencies|
Updated: Jun 13, 2019, 09.15 AM IST
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Former governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi (L) presents the Jananpith Award to writer Amitav Ghosh (R), in New Delhi.
NEW DELHI: Bestselling author and leading contemporary English writer, Amitav Ghosh, was awarded the 54th Jnanpith Award for his contribution to the enrichment of Indian literature in English at a ceremony at the India Habitat Centre on Wednesday.

He was conferred the award by former diplomat and governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who called him a 'craftsman' whose work comes from a 'sinews of effort no less than the strokes of inspiration'.

"Ghosh's material is drawn from the human condition. His resources are the offsprings of study. His achievements are progeny of art and his books are rich in what can only be called minerals," he added

The first English writer to be honoured with the prestigious award, the 62-year-old said, "It is an incredible moment of my life. It is a remarkable thing that I am getting this award".

The​ former governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi, while felicitating Ghosh, called him a 'craftsman' whose work comes from a 'sinews of effort no less than the strokes of inspiration'.​
The former governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi, while felicitating Ghosh, called him a 'craftsman' whose work comes from a 'sinews of effort no less than the strokes of inspiration'.

The author added that he constantly draws from Bangla for his works, "English is, not by any means, my only language. Nor would my work be what it is if I had grown in a circumstance where one language pre-dominated over all others.

"... Like even though I write in English I draw constantly from Bangla and its vast imaginative resources."

Ghosh also remembered Jnanpith awardee playwright-actor Girish Karnad who passed away on Monday.

"Girish Karnad was a friend whom I so much looked up to. He was an important voice in our lives. We have lost him just a few day ago. He is very much on my mind."

The author thanked the Jnanpith Selection Board and its chairman, novelist Pratibha Ray for the honour, and said when he started writing he had never imagined that one day an award like Jnanpith would come his way.

Ghosh is the first English writer to be honoured with the prestigious award.
Ghosh is the first English writer to be honoured with the prestigious award.

Instituted in 1961, the recipients of Jnanpith award are given a cash prize of Rs 11 lakh, a citation plaque and a bronze replica of Goddess Saraswati.

The news of Ghosh winning the award was first announced in December, following which the author had thanked his fans on Twitter who congratulated him.



Ghosh, who was born in Kolkata, has spent a part of his childhood and young adult life in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He has studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria.

He has earlier won the Sahitya Akademi Award for the 'Shadow Lines', 'The Glass Palace', 'The Hungry Tide', and the Ibis Trilogy - 'Sea of Poppies', 'River of Smoke', and 'Flood of Fire' - that chronicles the opium trade between India and China run by the then East India Company.
​During his speech, Ghosh also remembered Jnanpith awardee playwright-actor Girish Karnad who passed away on Monday.​
During his speech, Ghosh also remembered Jnanpith awardee playwright-actor Girish Karnad who passed away on Monday.

The author's new book, 'Gun Island', centered around a Brooklyn-based rare books dealer trying to decipher an ancient legend of the goddess of snakes, has just been released. With this, the writer returns to fiction after his 2015 work , 'Flood of Fire', from the Ibis trilogy.


The author, who currently lives in New York with his wife Deborah Baker, has also been feted with the Padma Shri.

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