Friday, July 29, 2016

Mahasweta Devi passes away at 91

Mahasweta Devi, the Bengali writer  who was the "Mother Courage" of Bengal and devi of the marginalized and the dispossessed, died yesterday at 91 leaving a legacy no one can match. 

A legendary fiction writer and fierce activist at the same time, she  was a straight shooter in all of her activities and had a wonderful in-your-face writing style. She wrote exactly the way as she lived with a great concern for the downtrodden. She was most unassuming, honest and never minced words when she talked or wrote about an issue. She was a professed Marxist, but was a scathing critic of the long-lasting Left regime of West Bengal. She was a deeply political writer.

She was a crusader for the rights of tribal people - particularly the denotified tribes of Bengal like the Kharia Shabors and the Lodhas. She often frequented their places, collected donations for their welfare, set up schools for them, fought legal battles for their cause, and even run a journal highlighting their life, culture and issues.

Mahasweta was a hugely successful writer with many of her novels and short stories being part of literary canon. She was probably the most translated South Asian author today and had been a Nobel prize contender for the past few years. 

In her death the Nobel Prize must have missed out on a writer who deserved it most.


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