• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Asian American writer wins Women’s Prize for fiction

V V Ganeshananthan is the author of novels Brotherless Night and Love Marriage

V V Ganeshananthan

By: Pramod Thomas

ASIAN AMERICAN author VV Ganeshanathan has been awarded the 2024 Women’s Prize for fiction for her novel Brotherless Night.

This evocative tale, which centres on a family torn apart by the Sri Lankan civil war, earned Ganeshanathan a £30,000 cash prize and a bronze statuette known as the “Bessie.”

Monica Ali, the chair of this year’s jury, said, “Brotherless Night is a brilliant, compelling, and deeply moving novel that bears witness to the intimate and epic-scale tragedies of the Sri Lankan civil war. In rich, evocative prose, Ganeshanathan creates a vivid sense of time and place and an indelible cast of characters. Her commitment to complexity and clear-eyed moral scrutiny, combined with spellbinding storytelling, render Brotherless Night a masterpiece of historical fiction.”

Earlier this year, Brotherless Night also won the Carol Shields prize for fiction.

Ganeshanathan, who teaches fiction and nonfiction at the University of Minnesota and co-hosts the Lit Hub Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast, has previously been recognised for her literary work.

Her first novel, Love Marriage, about two Tamil families, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize (then the Orange Prize) in 2009.

Raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Ganeshanathan was nurtured on a mix of stories from her parents’ homeland (Sri Lanka) alongside classics like “Anne of Green Gables.”

Her parents moved to America in the 1970s for professional reasons, found themselves unable to return to Sri Lanka amid escalating conflict. Her father was a pulmonary pediatrician, and her mother a Montessori nursery teacher.

Ganeshanathan is a former vice president of the South Asian Journalists Association. She also served on the board of the Asian American writers’ workshop, and is presently a member of the boards of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies and the Minnesota prison writing workshop.

The inaugural Women’s Prize for non-fiction was awarded to Naomi Klein for her book Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World. Klein received a £30,000 cash prize and an artwork known as the “Charlotte.”

The book is described as “a compelling critique of polarising trends in American and global politics, constructed around a relatable personal narrative.”

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