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Indian Writer Amitav Ghosh Awarded Prestigious Erasmus Prize 2024

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has awarded the Erasmus Prize 2024 to the Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. He receives this prestigious honour for his passionate contribution to the theme “imagining the unthinkable,” in which he explores the unprecedented global crisis of climate change through his literary works.

Giving Voice to an Existential Threat

Ghosh has delved deeply into the question of how to give justice to the existential threat of climate change, which defies our imagination. His work offers a remedy by making an uncertain future palpable through compelling stories about the past. He wields his pen to show that the climate crisis is a cultural crisis resulting from a lack of imagination.

A Vast Body of Work

Born in Kolkata in 1956, Ghosh has produced a vast body of work, including historical novels and journalistic essays that carry the reader across continents and oceans. His works are grounded in thorough archival research and transcend boundaries and time periods with literary eloquence.

Exploring Nature and Human Destiny

Nature has been an important character in Ghosh’s work, particularly after witnessing the ravaging effects of climate change and rising sea levels in the Sundarbans region while researching for his book “The Hungry Tide.” Drawing from the rich history of the Indian subcontinent, he describes how the effects of natural catastrophes have been inextricably linked with human destiny in that part of the world.

Tracing the Roots of the Climate Crisis

In his non-fiction book “The Nutmeg’s Curse,” Ghosh traces the current planetary crisis back to a disastrous vision that reduces the earth to raw material, soulless and mechanical. In his essay “The Great Derangement,” he challenges readers to view climate change through the geopolitical context of war and trade.

Propagating a New Humanism

Through understanding and imagination, Ghosh creates space for hope, a prerequisite for change. He propagates a new humanism in which not only are all people equal, but humanity also abandons the distinction between man and nature.

Accolades and Recognition

Ghosh has won various prizes, including the 2018 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary prize in India. In 2019, he received an honorary doctorate from Maastricht University and was ranked by “Foreign Policy” magazine as one of the most important global thinkers of our time.

The Erasmus Prize, awarded annually by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, recognizes exceptional contributions to the field of humanities or the arts. Amitav Ghosh’s recognition with this prestigious award highlights his significant role in giving voice to the existential threat of climate change through his literary works and promoting a new humanism that reconciles humanity with nature.

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