Author Namita Gokhale is among 20 writers to have been conferred with the Sahitya Akademi Award for 2021. She won the award for her English novel “Things to leave behind”.

Anita Vachharajani won the Bal Sahitya Puraskar, which is awarded for children’s literature, for her book “Amrita Sher-gil: Rebel with a paintbrush”, a biography of the Hungarian-Indian painter. Megha Majumdar won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar, awarded to young writers, for her novel “A burning”.

Gokhale said on Twitter that she was “deeply honoured” on receiving the award. “Feel a deep sense of pride and gratitude to belong to the vibrant Indian literatures,” she said.

Vachharajani said that she was “honoured and privileged” by the award. “Our stories, our artists, our scientists need to he celebrated,” she said.

Gokhale’s novel Things To Leave Behind, published in 2016, draws on themes of colonialism, caste and culture and tells the story of young Tilottama Dutt and her daughter, Deoki.

A review of the book in said that Gokhale demonstrated her strength “in painting the most vivid pictures of the hills and dales in and around Naineetal and Almora”.

“Her eye for the small details coupled with her near-photographic memory for the sights and sounds she imbibed as a child and the stories she heard from her grandmother and grand-aunts help in creating a virtual tableau before the reader’s inward eye,” the review said.

List of winners

The winners of the Sahitya Akademi Award include seven poetry books, two novels, five short stories, two plays and one book each from the categories of biography, autobiography, criticism and epic poetry in 20 Indian languages.

The awards for Gujarati, Maithili, Manipuri, and Urdu will be announced later.

Among the other authors who won the Sahitya Akademi Award for 2021 are Anuradha Sarma Pujari (Assamese), Bratya Basu (Bengali), Mwdai Gahai (Bodo), Raj Rahi (Dogri), Daya Prakash Sinha (Hindi), DS Nagabhushana (Kannada), Wali Mohd Aseer Kashtawari (Kashmiri), Sanjiv Verenkar (Konkani), George Onakkoor (Malayalam) and Kiran Gurav (Marathi).

The list also includes Chhabilal Upadhyaya (Nepali), Hrushikesh Mallick (Odia), Khalid Hussain (Punjabi), Meethesh Nirmohi (Rajasthani), Vindeshwariprasad Mishr “Vinay” (Sanskrit), Niranjan Hansda (Santali), Arjun Chawla (Sindhi), Ambai (Tamil) and Gorati Venkanna (Telugu).

The Sahitya Akademi Award winners will be presented with an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and an amount of Rs 1,00,000.