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Indian Author-Activist Meena Kandasamy Wins Germany’s PEN Award


Indian activist-author-poet Meena Kandasamy has been announced as the recipient of the Hermann Kesten Prize 2022, presented by the PEN Center in Darmstadt, Germany. The award was presented to Kandasamy in honor and in recognition of her support for the rights of writers in distress. It also acknowledges her writings on issues of class, ethnic and gender oppression.

The Hermann Kesten Prize is awarded “for outstanding efforts in supporting writers persecuted in accordance with the principles of the International PEN Charter,” according to their website. Beginning in 1985, the award was initially awarded once every two years until 1993; Since 1994 it is awarded every year.

Praising Kandasamy for her outstanding work, Cornelia Zetzsche, Vice President – German PEN Center, called her “a fearless fighter for democracy and human rights, for freedom and against oppression by landless people, minorities and Dalits in India.” Mention Kandasamy’s. In his 2010 poetry collection ‘Ms Militancy’, Zetzsche also referred to Kandasamy as “a” Ms. Where’s the rivalry’.

Commenting on winning the award, Kandasamy told DW in a statement that she views the award “not only as an affirmation of what I’ve done, but also of the historic responsibility we all have.” me as progressive writers and artists in India today.”

Kandasamy was born in Chennai, India in 1984. She previously worked for ‘The Dalit’ magazine, then became a full-time writer and activist. Some of her notable books are “Touch” (2006), “When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife” (2017), among others. Previously, her works have been shortlisted for the Women’s Fiction Award and the International Dylan Thomas Award. Kandasamy has also voiced her support for persecuted Indian writers including Varavara Rao and GN Saibaba.

More recently Kandasamy was also introduced as a Fellow of the Royal Literary Society. Sharing the news, she tweeted:

Kandasamy will be presented with the award during a ceremony in Darmstadt, Germany on November 15, 2022.

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