New Delhi: Leading Oriya novelist and academician Pratibha Ray, who has over 40 novels, travelogues and short stories to her credit, was on Thursday named for the prestigious Jnanpith Award for the year 2011. At a meeting chaired by writer and Jnanpith award winner Sitakant Mahapatra, it was decided that Ray, 69, will be the winner of the 2011 Janapith Award.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 7 lakh, a citation and a public felicitation. Ray will be the 47th author to be bestowed with the honour. Ray is a household name in Orissa, having made a remarkable journey from her obscure village to the hearts and minds of readers.
A professor by profession and a writer by choice, Pratibha Ray is one of the leading fiction writers in India and she has been involved in active research. "Born in 1943, Pratibha Ray is one of the most widely read Oriya novelists and short story writers. Her novels and stories are deeply and persuasively grounded in the great tradition of story-telling," the Bharatiya Jnanpith said in a release.
Ray has 20 novels, 24 short stories, 10 travelogues, two poetry collections and a number of essays to her credit. Her writings have been translated into English, other foreign languages as also a number of other Indian languages.
Her boldness, courage and commitment to work with the Bonda tribe was commendable at a time when even a male researcher shied away from working with them. In her works, the woman is redefining her role and determining parameters for herself and the society in every walk of life and perhaps revolutionizing the concept of womanhood itself.
Her role-model was her father late Parashuram Das who gave up a lucrative job in the Tata Iron & Steel Company and joined as the first Head Master of Balikuda High School to educate the people to help them realise the significance of freedom struggle.