Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2021-2022 Winner

We are thrilled to announce the joint winners of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2021-22!

A Sky Full of Bucket Lists by Shobhana Kumar (Red River 2021)

Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation by Sudeep Sen (Pippa Rann Books&Media 2021)

A Sky Full of Bucket Lists

Shobhana Kumar (Red River, 2021)

What a delight it is to read this combination of jazz like cadence, sharp wit and profound compassion!

This insightful, virtuosic and enigmatic collection of haibun is loosely united around the theme of loss, that doubles as an examination of malady, disability and frailty of old age, occasionally lifting off into a personal and poignant reverie.

The observations are keen, conveyed in sombre nuances that in moments perfectly define the condition of displacement. The expressive skills are exceptional and have the power to shock a reader into a profound sense of impermanence, to conjure up the pensive doom of hollow values.

The authoress navigates through lost identities and territories, articulates abandonment, hardship, loneliness and death, then looks back and reconfigures it.

The sky is the same colour as Ama’s shroud, cornflower blue, yet it is where the dreams are. On the scaffold, the sky is within reach, it is where the dreams could be toiled for, yet at a risk of death, but also ignominy, the price a poor man pays for his impudence.

Kumar’s writing is effortless and graceful, yet maintains a capability to extract dignity and humanity from the debris of human trauma, not only in order to offer a covert critique of our social reality, but to remind us of our moral and empathetic capacities.

A Sky Full of Bucket Lists is a well of linguistic acuity that brings forth the reality of being a human in its raw and underrepresented form. Shobhana Kumar addresses unease with ease, angst with grace, and offers a unique perspective on the truth of personal struggle, behind the veneer of convention and past the bitterness of social rejection.

Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation:

Sudeep Sen (Pippa Rann Books&Media, 2021)

Sudeep Sen writes a powerful and intimate testimony to the human life inexorably and agonizingly devolving, in real time and in direct confrontation with Nature that runs its rebalancing course, keeps the Death by its side and doesn’t shiver at the sight of human arrogance.

In this multi genre compendium of insights, narrative threads tie and untie around the dissolution of the human experience as we know it, converging on the idea of ulterior oneness as the ultimate consolation.

Sen’s masterful writing spans and trespasses conventions of forms and styles, layering and fragmenting the syntax of our psychological and physical disconnectedness and forcing us to acknowledge our altered biological reality. By wrestling with the quandaries of the climate change, lockdown, daily news statistics, failing science, indelibly exposing our organisms as our own ecosystems shutting down, our personal systems of oppression that are reconstructing our sense of freedom and time, sense of being and wholesomeness, Sen is creating a literary experience of surreal honesty and unexpected beauty.

The courage to haunt and challenge his own intimate struggle between the chaos of entropy and the synergic pull of transcendental unity, frightening in its intensity and mirroring the paradoxes of social constructs and human choices, is brilliantly epitomized in Icarus, the metaphor of our shared disquiet.

Is there a better symbol of of the fallacy of homocentrism than hubris, the trait that stems from ignorance and expands into greed, abuse of power and repression, embodied in the mythological figure of Icarus? Falling from the scorching sky, he is beckoning to the author, who is feverish and defeated, a hostage to the madness of humankind, tempted by the primeval, but deceptive relief of water, to hurl himself down onto Icarus’s back and crash into the depth of darkness that synchronously explodes into the full spectrum of colours it contains, a majestic firework of Holi, the celebration of life over death.

The impact Anthropocene is making, as a collection of observations that directly address the conundrum of our present and our future, but also in regard to the innovative utilization of genre, is impossible to overestimate.

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