Mumbai, Oct 3 (IANS): Acclaimed Tamil author C.S. Lakshmi - who writes under the pseudonym Ambai - has been conferred the ‘Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award’ for 2023, an official said here on Tuesday.
Mumbai-based Lakshmi, 79, is a leading feminist writer, academic and was decorated with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2021.
“She is credited with transforming Tamil fiction, especially the short story genre, imaginatively experimenting with both form and language… Her contribution to the field of Indian literature cannot be overstated,” said the official.
Through her women’s stories, Lakshmi explores their love, relationships, quests and journeys incisively, said the festival co-director Amy Fernandes.
Born in Coimbatore in 1944, Lakshmi earned her graduation and post-graduation degrees from Bangalore and Madras universities, and then completed her PhD from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.
Starting as a teacher in school and college, she pursued research while continuing to pen fiction with many publications to her credit in Tamil and English.
Lakshmi bagged the Sahitya Akademi Award, the country’s highest literary award for her novel 'Sivappu Kazhuthudan Oru Pachai Paravai' (A Red-Necked Green Bird).
Most of her Tamil works have been translated into English, among them being 'Veetin Mulaiyil Oru Samayalarai' (A Kitchen in the Corner of the House) translated by Lakshmi Holmström, which is a riveting composition about the lives of three generations of women in a Rajasthani household, portrayed through the gaze of a Tamil daughter-in-law.
Lakshmi is a pioneering archivist in women's studies and aco-founder of SPARROW (Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women), India’s first archive dedicated to only women, which holdsa range of writings and visual and oral records.
Tata Sons’ Brand Custodian Harish Bhat said that Lakshmi's extensive body of work has left an indelible mark and her voice embodies courage in challenging the stereotyping of women, brims with empathy, unwavering conviction, and a delightful sense of humour, spanning diverse forms, including research, translations, poetry, and both novels and short stories.
“Her literary contributions not only push the boundaries of storytelling in regional languages, but also enrich the global literary landscape, offering a wealth of profound experiences,” said Bhat.
Thrilled by the announcement, Lakshmi termed it as an honour to the Tamil language in which she writes.
Some of the past recipients of the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award include Mahesh Elkunchwar, Anita Desai, Ruskin Bond, Shanta Gokhale, Sir Mark Tully, Girish Karnad, Amitav Ghosh, Kiran Nagarkar, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Khushwant Singh, Sir V.S. Naipaul and Mahashweta Devi.