The first recognition for an English writer, Amitav Ghosh has announced as 2018’s Jnanpith Award winner for “outstanding contribution towards literature”. 1956, the Kolkata-born author was described as a “path-breaking novelist” by Bharatiya Jnanpith. The awarding body said that Amitav Ghosh, in his novels, treads through historical settings to the modern era and weaves a space where the past connects with the present in relevant ways.
“His fiction is endowed with extraordinary depth and substance through his academic training as a historian and a social anthropologist. His major thematic concerns include migration and interconnections across places, cultures and races, and human distress and suffering caused by historical turbulences, especially at the level of girmitiyas, coolies and lascars,” Bharatiya Jnanpith said in a statement.
Amitav Ghosh has explored Indian protagonists ranging across a wide international field, including Bangladesh, England, Egypt and Myanmar in both his fictional and discursive writings. Some of his celebrated works include “The Circle of Reason“, “The Shadow Lines”, “The Calcutta Chromosome”, “The Glass Palace”, “The Hungry Tide” and the Ibis trilogy that includes “Sea of Poppies”, “River of Smoke”, and “Flood of Fire”.
The decision was taken in a meeting of Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by eminent novelist and scholar Pratibha Ray. Other eminent persons of the selection board included Girishwar Misra, Shamim Hanfi, and Harish Trivedi, among others. All the previous winners of the much coveted award have been writers in Indian languages, making Amitav Ghosh the first writer in English its winner.