Author and politician Shashi Tharoor, Tamil novelist Cho Dharman, Kannada writer, critic and journalist Vijaya, Malayalam poet V Madhusoodanan Nair and Telugu writer Bandi Narayana Swamy are among this year’s Sahitya Akademi awardees. The awards representing 23 Indian languages were announced on Wednesday for works published between the period of January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017.
Shashi Tharoor and Dr Vijaya have won for their work in creative non-fiction. Tharoor won it for his English book titled An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India and Vijaya received it for her autobiography in Kannada titled Kudi Esaru.
Tamil writer Cho Dharman and Telugu writer Bandi Narayana Swamy received it for their novels Sool and Septabhoomi respectively and V Madhusoodanan Nair won for his book of poems, Achan Piranna Veedu.
Tharoor's 360-page book was published in 2016 and its British edition, titled Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, released a year later. Tharoor, 63, who represents the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in the Lok Sabha has authored bestsellers like Why I Am A Hindu, The Hindu Way and The Paradoxical Prime Minister.
Dharman’s acclaimed third novel Sool, published in the year 2016, focused on environmental degradation of water bodies, also documenting bird species that were threatened by change, around the karisal or rain-fed lands of southern Tamil Nadu, especially Thoothukudi. He is also well-known for his critically acclaimed second novel Koogai (2005), which was then translated as The Owl by Vasantha Surya in 2015.
67-year-old Anantapur-based writer Bandi Narayana Swamy’s novel Septabhoomi is based on the history of Rayalaseema. Published in 2017, he also received the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) Award for it. Two other novelists who won the award this year include Joysree Goswami Mahanta (Assamese) and L Birmangol Singh (Beryl Thanga) (Manipuri).
Madhusoodanan Nair who published his first poem anthology, Naranathu Bhranthan in 1992, won the Akademi award for Achan Piranna Veedu this year. A retired Professor from Kerala’s St Xavier’s College (Thiruvananthapuram), he is also the recipient of several awards including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award, Asan award, Kunju Pillai award, K Balakrishnan award, RG Mangalam award and Souparnikatheeram award.
Other poets who were awarded this year include Phukan Ch. Basumatary (Bodo), Nand Kishore Acharya (Hindi), Nilba A. Khandekar (Konkani), Kumar Manish Arvind (Maithili), Anuradha Patil (Marathi) and Penna Madhusudan (Sanskrit).
Awards have also been given to six books of short stories by Abdul Ahad Hajini (Kashmiri), Tarun Kanti Mishra (Odia), Kirpal Kazak (Punjabi), Ramsawroop Kisan (Rajasthani), Kali Charan Hembram (Santali) and Ishwar Moorjani (Sindhi). Three essayists, Chinmoy Guha (Bengali), Om Sharma Jandriari (Dogri) and Ratilal Borisagar (Gujarati), also figure in the list of awardees. While Vijaya won it for her autobiography, Shafey Kidwai’s biography in Urdu also received the award this year.
The awards for this year included seven books of poetry, four novels, six short stories, three non-fiction books and three essays. The awards, comprising an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and Rs 100,000 in cash, will be given away on February 25, 2020, during the Akademi's Festival of Letters.