The literary award must generate wider discussion in society on what plagues us. After all, the writer has always been outspoken against extremism.
This year’s Jnanpith Award for best literature has gone to Damodar Mauzo, the famous Konkani novelist and short story writer. The great Assamese poetic talent, Nilmani Phookan Jr, has also been awarded the Jnanpith for 2020. Hopefully, as we celebrate “their outstanding contribution towards literature,” our discussions will not remain confined to the literary domain.
In his acclaimed novel, ‘Karmelin’ (1980), Mauzo writes about the abuse of women who go to work as housemaids in the Middle East. This novel came long before everybody started talking about this issue. His story, ‘The Burger’, is about two school friends, Irene and Sharmila, and the guilt little Irene experiences over ‘polluting’ Sharmila with a beef burger. Another story describes how cow vigilantes intimidated a Dalit youth long before others talked about the phenomenon.
Maybe Mauzo could see beyond the immediate and obvious, which prompted his social and political actions on issues of concern to all of society. That social engagement allowed him to observe the dangers that lurked in our society in the form of the right-wing, and gave him courage to never shy away from boldly speaking out against them.
( Read the full story here)