2023 PEN/Nabokov Lifetime Achievement Award
Vinod Kumar Shukla has won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature for lifetime achievement in literature, one of the most coveted literary prizes worldwide, after decades of composing acclaimed novels like Naukar Ki Kameez (1979) and poetry collections like Sab Kuch Hona Bacha Rahega (1992). The award is conferred annually by PEN America.
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The award was founded in 2016 by Pen America in collaboration with the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation to honour a living author whose work, written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. The award carries a cash prize of USD 50,000.
About Vinod Kumar Shukla:
Vinod Kumar Shukla, born on 1st January 1937 in Chhattisgarh, is the celebrated author of novels, poetry, and short stories in Hindi and in translation. Shukla also has an MSc in agriculture from Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya in Jabalpur and has lectured in the same. His works frequently tackle issues of class and wealth and the lives of the poor navigating a capitalist world.
One of his latest story collections, Blue is like Blue (2019), translated by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai, explores characters who live in one-room apartments and fear being swindled by electric companies. Mahavidyalaya (2022) is a collection which discusses the conflicts between nature and humanity and how literature can rescue both. The novel A Silent Place (2021), translated by Satti Khanna, narrates a forest silenced by exploitation, and the journey of a few kids within who seek to enliven it again.
His first published work was a poetry collection Lagbhag Jai Hind (1971), followed by Vah Aadmi Chala Gaya Naya Garam Coat Pehankar Vichar Ki Tarah (1981). Naukar Ki Kameez was his first novel, adapted into a 1999 Hindi film by Mani Kaul, telling the story of a clerk in a government office who is found to fit into the shirt of a domestic help who runs away from his employer’s house.
Shukla, whose works incorporate magic-realist elements and have won the Sahitya Akademi award and the Atta Galatta–Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize, was born on January 1, 1937 in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh (then Madhya Pradesh). He also received the Atta Galatta–Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize in 2019 for “Blue Is Like Blue: Stories”, and the Mathrubhumi Book of the Year award in 2020 for the same.
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