Author Amitav Ghosh was on Thursday awarded the Erasmus Prize 2024 for his writings on the climate crisis and human interactions with nature.

Netherlands-based organisation Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, which gives out the award each year, said that Ghosh “receives the prize for his passionate contribution to the theme ‘imagining the unthinkable’, in which an unprecedented global crisis – climate change – takes shape through the written word”.

Ghosh said on X that he was “delighted and hugely honoured” to receive the award.

The foundation, said that the 67-year-old author shows through his writings “that the climate crisis is a cultural crisis that results from a dearth of the imagination”. It took note of how he touched upon themes such as migration, diaspora and cultural identity through his writings – both fiction and non-fiction.

Ghosh, the foundation noted, carried out research into the tidal landscape of the Sundarbans for his 2004 novel The Hungry Tide and “witnessed how climate change and rising sea levels were ravaging the area”.

It further said: “In his compelling Ibis trilogy, set against the backdrop of poppy cultivation and opium wars, he shows how colonialism has left equally deep scars in the landscape.”

The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation remarked that Ghosh, through his non-fiction books The Nutmeg’s Curse and The Great Derangement, shed light on a “disastrous vision that reduces the earth to raw material" and challenged readers to view climate change through the context of war and trade.

The Erasmus Prize is awarded to a person or institution that has “made an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences or the arts, in Europe and beyond”. It consists of a cash prize of 1,50,000 euros, or over Rs 1.35 crore.

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