Author-poet Meena Kandasamy wins German PEN Prize
Indian author and poet Meena Kandasamy has been named the winner of the Hermann Kesten Prize from the PEN Center in Darmstadt, Germany. The Hermann Kesten prize rewards personalities who, in the spirit of the charter of the PEN association, defend the rights of persecuted authors and journalists.
Cornelia Zetzsche, vice-president of the German PEN Centre, described Kandasamy as “a fearless fighter for democracy and human rights, for free speech and against the oppression of the landless, minorities and Dalits in India ; not a ‘Ms. Pleasant’, rather a ‘Ms. Militancy'”, referencing 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 question of gender, caste, sexuality, patriarchy and oppression by the Brahmin 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 position at the English-language magazine “The Dalit”.
Kandasamy strongly criticized the arrest of other writers like Varavara Rao and former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.
His notable works include The Gypsy Goddess (2014), When I hit you: or, portrait of the writer as a young wife (2017), Ayankali (2007), Tamil Tigresses (2021) and poems including Touch (2006), and Mrs. Militancy (2010).