Studied from the Presidency College in Kolkata, Anuradha Roy felt it unreal when she got a call to announce that she is in the highly esteemed literary prize list of the Man Booker Prize. She kept thinking it was a mistake, but no, it is as true as truth can be. The joy grows to its extreme when it is known that she is the first and the only Indian to do so. Her recently written novel, Sleeping on Jupiter, is the one that fetch her immense recognition.
The famed Man Booker Prize which has embraced dignitaries like Margaret Atwood for ‘The Blind Assassin’ in 2000 and Arundhati Roy for ‘The God of Small Things’ in 1997 came up with this year’s list of 13 only on Tuesday.
Being the third up until now, ‘An Atlas of Impossible Longings’ and ‘The Folded Earth’ are her first two novels. Among these, her first novel has been translated in 15 different languages across the world. Not just that, it has been counted amongst the 60 Essential English Language Works of Modern Indian Literature by the prestigious World Literature Today. None of her books missed out on the accolades as even the second book of hers, The Folded Earth, won the Economist Crossword Prize for fiction in 2012 and was nominated in the Man Asian Literary Prize.
Founder of Permanent Black, a publishing house, Anuradha accepts all the recognition with such humility and naivety as is not expected of a person holding so many achievements at once. “ I keep thinking it must be a mistake and they’ll tell me that in the next five minutes,” says Roy in a report by Vogue. An author, an editor and a journalist all rolled into one is Anuradha Roy for you. She is as quirky, as genuine and as truthful as the accounts in her books.
Every writer strives to give its character a life, an arc which defines its uniqueness, while there are quite a few great writers who put the effort to give their novel’s setting a character so much so that it doesn’t remain just a normal city or a town, but a fantastical place only to be made for the people in the novel. ““When you are writing a novel, you are sort of living in that place for a long time. Unless it is absolutely real, I can’t function in the world of the novel,” says the author, a Ranikhet resident, to the Indian Express. Her previous novels- An atlas of Impossible Longings had Songarh, a fictional town in pre-independence Bengal, The Folded Earth had a hilly town in the middle of Himalayas and in her new book, Sleeping on Jupiter, is a small temple city called Jharmuli.
Bringing the hypocrisies and the ironies of the Indian society to the forefront is what Sleeping on Jupiter is all about, according to Anuradha. For herself, Anuradha finds pleasure in reading crime fiction by Karin Fossum and Henning Mankell, which sits on her bookshelf at all times.
Anuradha stands as an inspiration for every woman who aspires to be a writer some day. Her win is a reply to all those who believe women are much less capable in comparison with men as it is the Man Booker prize that she is not just the first, but also a female to win being an Indian.
Picture Credit- Winterline Centre for the Arts