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Raj Kamal Jha wins Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize

In Nation
December 07, 2020

Journalist-author Raj Kamal Jha has won the 3rd Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for his novel, “The City and The Sea”, organiser and publisher Peter Bundalo announced on Monday.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winner of the USD 5,000 prize was announced online in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Jha”s book, which is based on the December 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case, was chosen from ten shortlisted books including Amitav Ghosh” “Gun Island”, Nirmala Govindarajan”s “Taboo”, and Ranjit Hoskote”s “Jonahwhale”.

“In this brilliant work of fiction Raj Kamal Jha succeeds in making us witnesses to the vastness of existences, possibilities, hopes and dreams annulled by an act of horrific violence rooted in inveterate biases in how malignant to each other we believe we have a right to be.

“Genuinely concerned with present day afflictions, this novel is a lament of the flawed society, evocation to all who perished in violation of their fundamental rights, but also a ray of hope for a different humankind, awake to our intrinsic unity, even in sorrow,” said Maja Markunovic, member of the jury and Literary Director of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize.

“Cobalt Blue” by Sachin Kundalkar translated from Marathi into English by Jerry Pinto, “The Black Dwarves of the Good Little Bay” by Varun Thomas Mathew, “Karmic Chanting” by Sonnet Mondal, “Paper Asylum” by Rochelle Potkar, “Shadow Men” by Bijoya Sawian, and “EroText” by Sudeep Sen were the other shortlisted entries for the prize.

“Introducing Tagore’s Gitanjali, WB Yeats talked about how the poet’s work took the ”immeasurably strange” and moved us, not because of its strangeness but because we met in it our own image, heard in it our own voice. There couldn”t be a more powerful imperative of storytelling today than this humanism – this is what the Tagore Prize celebrates and it”s a privilege to be in the company of its extraordinary finalists,” Jha said upon receiving the prize.

The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize was founded in 2018 by US-based publisher Bundalo as a platform for world peace, literature, art, education and human rights.

Last year, British Indian novelist Rana Dasgupta was awarded the literary prize for his novel “Solo”.

The award also recognises works towards human rights and world peace with the Social Achievement Prize.

The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize for Social Achievement 2020 was conferred to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the late Sultan of Oman and The People of Oman, and renowned Indian choreographer Sandip Soparrkar for his contribution to the betterment of society through his initiative “Dance for a Cause”.