Delhi-based journalist and author Raghu Karnad was announced as one of eight recipients of Yale University’s Windham-Campbell Prize this year, in London. One of the world’s most lucrative literary awards, the prize is open to English language writers from across the world, with each winner receiving $165,000 to support their writing.
Karnad was named as a winner in the non-fiction category of the prize for his debut book, Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War, published in 2015. Panning across Singapore, Eritrea, Libya, El Alamein, Basra, Arakan and Imphal, Farthest Field tells the story of three men from the same family serving in the Indian Army during World War II. Calling it an “epic of un-forgetting”, the prize lauded Karnad’s writing for combining forensic archival research with “imaginative fire and unsettling national and colonial histories”.
Karnad said, “I am still a bit stunned. But it is a thrill that this obscure and untold chapter of history, which deserves so much more attention, caught the attention of this awesome institution and jury.”
Established in 2013 after writer Donald Windham left his estate to Yale University, the Windham-Campbell Prize does not have a submission process and is judged anonymously, with winners only finding out through a phone call from director of the prize. The literary award aims to “call attention to literary achievements” and allow writers to “focus on their work independent of financial concerns”.
American writer Rebecca Solnit was named as the other winner in this year’s non-fiction category. The winners for fiction are Irish short story write Danielle McLaughlin and Canadian novelist David Chariandy. Ghanian poet Kwame Dawes and Ishion Hutchinson from Jamaica won for poetry and Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius and Korean-American director and playwright Young Jean Lee won in the Drama category.
Past winners of the prize include Jerry Pinto, Maya Jasanoff, Teju Cole and Geoff Dyer.