Author-poet Meena Kandasamy wins the German PEN award


Indian author and poet Meena Kandasamy has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Hermann Kesten Prize by the PEN Centre in Germany’s Darmstadt. The Hermann Kesten Prize honours personalities who, in the spirit of the charter of the PEN association, stand up for the rights of persecuted authors and journalists.

Cornelia Zetzsche, Vice President of the German PEN Center, described Kandasamy as “a fearless fighter for democracy and human rights, for the free word and against the oppression of landless, minorities and Dalit in India; not a ‘Ms. Pleasant’, rather a ‘Ms. Militancy’,” referring to Kandasamy’s 2011 book of poems titled Ms Militancy.

Born in 1984 in Chennai, Kandasamy is a feminist and anti-caste activist whose work revolves around the issue of gender, caste, sexuality, patriarchy, and oppression by the Brahmanical system. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Hindu Lit Prize.

She previously held an editorial role at the English-language magazine ‘The Dalit’.

Kandasamy has been a vocal critic of the arrest of fellow writers like Varavara Rao and former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba.

Her notable works include The Gypsy Goddess, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife, Ayaankali, Tamil Tigresses and poems including Touch, and Ms Militancy.





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