Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize and TagorePrize for Social Achievement 2020 Announced
Raj Kamal Jha for his novel – The City and the Sea wins Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the late Sultan of Oman and The People of Oman, and Sandip Soparrkar from India wins TagorePrize for Social Achievement
December 7th 2020, in Copenhagen, Denmark
Welcome to the third edition of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize. Unfortunately, due to the covid-19 pandemic Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2020 award distribution ceremony and irreplaceable beauty and excitement of celebrating all of our nominees, peers and kindred spirits in person had to be canceled and substituted by announcing the winners through our social media platforms and press release.
Congratulating this year’s awardees, the chair of the Awarding Committee and Founder of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize – Peter Bundalo full-heartedly conveyed’’ Many congratulations to this year’s winners and all shortlisted authors, this year has been challenging in many ways for the entire world. The spirit of humanity, compassion, empathy will lead us to a new year and hopefully, we shall all meet in New Delhi in-person for the next award ceremony, till then stay safe”.
As a honorable legacy to Rabindranath Tagore, we are awarding the finest in Indian literature with the Literary Prize, and recognizing the positive and lasting impact on society and its change with the Social Achievement Prize.
This year winner of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2020 is The City and the Sea, a literary fiction by Raj Kamal Jha.
Members of the jury and Literary Director of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize Maja Markunovic remark:
A woman finds herself in a hotel next to the sea and far away from home. It is a place she had long dreamed of visiting, yet, overwhelmed by amnesiac confusion, she senses something is terribly amiss. On the other side of the world, in a city where the home is, a child sets out on a surreal journey in an attempt to retrace the steps of his missing mother and find her. Along the way appears December, a youth who seems to know where to go and who, despite himself, uncovers the devastating truth and his burden of guilt.
The winner of Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2020 is The City and the Sea by Raj Kamal Jha, a novel based on the atrocious (Nirbhaya) case of sexual assault and murder, that brought India together in a moral frenzy. From this starting point of factual framework, Raj Kamal Jha takes a leap of imagination and twines a story of love and loss around the bond between a mother and a child that breaks away into realms of phantasmagoria and supernatural where suffering becomes multidimensional, and allusions that mirror our underlying woes strike eerily home.
The City and the Sea is not about crude moralizing and in many ways defies preconceptions of how such an encumbered topic should be tackled. The core is about the aftermath of the most brutal gender based violence, yet the word rape is strategically absent from the entire body of text, as if it would fail to convey the substance of the experience. Instead, the abominable unsaid was brought to the fore via lyrical, allusive and disorienting narration that magically falls together to render it somehow more sincere and complex.
The same powerful delicacy is used to broach the difficult bigotry of how we perceive each other with prismatic approach to its repercussions, which makes the reading experience uniquely empathetic and eye opening.
When mother and what we come to know as her never to be born child reunite in the climactic scene that draws heavily on the allusion to the refugees floating on the open sea, these souls are revealed as exiles from their own bodies, holding onto each other as though that bond is what keeps them from cancelling each other’s existences, struggling to make sense of death, that final displacement and everything unresolved, unredeemed and makeshift that trails behind.
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.
The first prize in the amount of USD $5 000 (unfortunately, due to the covid-19 global economic crisis, the prize money has been temporarily decreased from USD 10,000 and will be delivered in USD $1000 monthly installments) and a Rabindranath Tagore statuette will be awarded to the winner.
Raj Kamal Jha, the Chief Editor of The Indian Express on receiving the news on winning the Prize for his fifth novel: “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.
He further added “My deepest thanks to the judges and organizers of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2020. The honour isn’t exactly mine, it belongs to the broken children, women and men in The City and the Sea. Who fall apart, pick up their pieces, and, in doing so, help us become whole again.”
TagorePrize 2020 for Social Achievement was conferred to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the late Sultan of Oman and The People of Oman and from India Sandip Soparrkar a renowned dancer choreographer.
By posthumously rewarding His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said for his astounding lifelong efforts and legacy as a peacemaker, His Majesty’s velvety diplomatic mediation of complex domestic and world affairs resulting in successful peaceful resolutions, TagorePrize would like to emphasize – A Peacemaker never dies; living forever in our hearts and illuminating paths in all of us. Rabindranath Tagore statuette will be awarded to his successor His Majesty Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Sultan of Oman.
From India, Sandip Soparrkar, a renowned dancer choreographer, was chosen for the Social Achievement Prize for his contribution to the betterment of society through his initiative “Dance for a Cause”. Commended for creatively using dance as a medium to bring awareness on the values of the society, consequently serving humanity by alleviating global problems such as domestic violence, acid attacks, drug abuse, AIDS, cancer care, care for seniors, adoptions, and animal protection, etc. Rabindranath Tagore statuette will be presented to Sandip Soparrkar.
On hearing the announcement he expressed “I am overwhelmed to receive Rabindranath Tagore Social Achievement Award 2020 for my worldwide initiative Dance for a Cause, I am humbled that this honor for the very first time is given to a dancer-choreographer. I feel privileged, excited, and thankful as I know prestigious award brings with it lots of responsibility and duties and today I promise that I will do my best to keep the prestige of this honor alive.”
In conclusion, Sandra de Castro Buffington, TagorePrize Advisory Board and Hollywood story whisperer from the USA sends a special message saying “It is an honor to join Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize team in recognizing humanity’s highest values depicted in literature, art, and world leadership. These forms of wisdom, truth, and beauty have the power to awaken us to a higher image of human potential and to make every life count. We celebrate the Prize winners in creating a more peaceful, enlightened, and just world.”
Once again, congratulations!
TagorePrize had been founded and launched with a strong vision to be a platform and a vehicle for improving and inspiring World Peace, Literature, Art and Education. We are promoting the culture and beauty of literature just as Rabindranath Tagore had taught us to, but also, the culture and society of tolerance, harmony and non – discrimination.
Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2021 and 2022 is open for submissions. The deadline is September 1st, 2022.