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Arundhati Roy Honored with the Lee Hochul Literary Prize for Peace

Mathew Joy Maniyamkott
·Contributor
·2-min read

Arundhati Roy, one of India’s most celebrated writers, received the highly regarded Lee Hochul Literary Prize for Peace this year. The award has a prize money of $50,000. The award was presented in a video conference from Korea Press Centre.

Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy speaks during a press conference on the Supreme Court's recent opinion on public protests, in which it said public places can't be occupied indefinitely, in New Delhi on October 22, 2020.
Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy speaks during a press conference on the Supreme Court's recent opinion on public protests, in which it said public places can't be occupied indefinitely, in New Delhi on October 22, 2020.

Explaining the reason for choosing Arundhati for the Lee Hochul Literary Prize for Peace, the selection committee said, “Roy’s literary spirit has been in line with that of the writer Lee Hochul in that she has relentlessly sought peace in the history of India with fierce problem consciousness.”

“The artist's role is to write about the world in which one lives. The Western liberal discourse in the past has separated art and politics in a very artificial way; so there has been sort of suspicion that art and literature should be separated from politics, and that is a way of maintaining the status quo," said Arundhati while addressing the audience through the video conference.

She also added that she doesn’t believe in using novels to deliver political messages. “A novel is to see and write the complexity that exists in the world as it is, whether it is politics or gender.” She demonstrated her belief in novels by adding “Fiction is truth,” and has promised that the honorarium of 50,000 KRW will be used to help people.

The Lee Hochul Literary Prize for Peace was established in 2017 to commemorate the late Lee Hochul, one of South Korea’s most celebrated writers who wrote mainly on the separated families in North and South Korea. Last year’s literary prize was given to Nuruddin Farah, a native of Somalia, who has written plays for stage and radio, as well as essays and short stories.

Arundhati Roy was in news earlier this month as well when her book, 'Walking with the Comrades,’ was removed from the English curriculum of the post graduation course of a state-run university in Tamil Nadu. The book was removed following complaints from several people, including the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, alleging that the book glorified the Maoists and was anti-national in content.

Reacting to the university's decision to remove her book, Arundhati was quoted saying, "I am more happy than sad because I had no idea that my book was in the curriculum. This narrow, shallow, insecure attitude towards literature displayed by the current regime is not just detrimental to its critics but is also detrimental to millions of its own supporters.”

(Edited by Varnika)

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