Kerala novelist returns award; Satchidanandan quits Sahitya Akademi posts
Thiruvananthapuram, 10 Oct:
Another writer has decided to give up her literary award while two others have quit their Sahitya Akademi memberships to join the growing number of literary greats giving up their honours to protest the recent attacks on writers and free speech. Sarah Joseph, an eminent Malayalam novelist, gave up the Sahitya Akademi award she received for her critically acclaimed novel ‘Aalahayude Penmakkal’ (Daughters of God the Father). She said she would send back the plaque and cash she received to the academy.
Poet K Satchidanandan and short-story writer PK Parakkadavu have decided to give up their memberships to the Akademi in protest of the institution’s silence over growing attacks on writers. “An alarming situation is being created in the country in all spheres of life after the Modi government came to power. The religious harmony and secularism of the country is under unprecedented threat,” she said from Thrissur.
The Central Government has done nothing to counter the increasing threat that authors now face, she said. Satchidanandan resigned from all committees of the Sahitya Akademi saying the literary body had “failed” in its duty to stand up for writers and uphold freedom of expression.
Satchidanandan was serving in the General Council, Executive Board and Financial Committee of the Akademi. “I had written to the Akademi when MM Kalburgi was killed earlier. They had held condolences in Bangalore but they should have done something nationally. There was no response to my request to pass a resolution,” Satchidanandan said. As the “conscience keeper of the writing community” Sahitya Akademi should actively condemn the killing of Kalburgi, he said.
Parakkadavu also said he would also resign from his Akademi membership. Writers, meanwhile, have begun to take sides in the ongoing protest, with some refusing to return their awards. Jnanpith laureate MT Vasudevan Nair said that while he was not against any protests, he wouldn’t return the Akademi honours he was given in 1968.
Earlier this week, eminent writer Nayantara Sahgal and former Lalit Kala Akademi chairman Ashok Vajpeyi had returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards to protest the “assault on right to freedom of both life and expression”. Noted Hindi writer Uday Prakash was the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award to protest Kalburgi’s murder.