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Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 Specials: Mahasweta Devi

Post by: Snehith Kumbla


At the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's speech was less of a keynote address, but rather a recitation of Kabir's poems. In the heat of the opposition to Salman Rushdie’s proposed JLF visit, Mehrotra made his point through Kabir, putting across the futility of religious discrimination. The speaker at this year's keynote address (on January 24, 2013) – Social activist and Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi, 87, has had a long and illustrious life. Devi was born in Dhaka on 1926 to a poet/novelist father and a writer/social worker mother. After India's partition, Devi moved to West Bengal where she studied at the Tagore-founded Vishvabharati University, Santiniketan, completing her B.A. (Hons) in English there; an M.A. in English followed.


Devi married playwright Bijon Bhattacharya, gave birth to Nabarun Bhattacharya – now a leading Bengali novelist. She divorced her husband in 1959. The novels of Mahasweta Devi celebrate womanhood, and hold a brutal mirror to the society’s ills - Jhansir Rani, Hajar Churashir Maa, Rudali, Draupadi and Kulaputra are some of Devi's enduring works that have been translated into many regional languages apart from English and French. Devi has also been the recipient of several awards including the Sahitya Academy Award (1979), the Padma Shri (1986), the Jnanpith Award (1996), Ramon Magsaysay Award (1997) and lately, the Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement (2012). We have to now wait and watch what Devi will speak about at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 keynote address. 

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