Indian-American Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri has been selected for the prestigious 2014 National Humanities Medal which would be presented to her by US President Barack Obama next week. Jhumpa, 48, has been selected for the award for enlarging the human story, the White House said here last week. “In her works of fiction, Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging,” the White House said in a statement.
Among other awardees include historians, writers, a philosopher, scholar, preservationist, food activist and an education course. First Lady Michelle Obama will also attend the awards ceremony at the White House on September 10. “The National Endowment for the Humanities (NHE) is proud to join President Obama in celebrating the achievements of these distinguished medalists,” said NEH Chairman William Adams.
“The recipients of this medal have sparked our imaginations, ignited our passions, and transformed our cultural understanding. They embody how the humanities can serve a common good,” he said. In addition to Lahiri, Obama would present the awards to Clemente Course in the Humanities, Annie Dillard (author), Everett L Fly (architect and preservationist), Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (philosopher and novelist), Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (historian), Fedwa Malti-Douglas (scholar), Larry McMurtry (novelist), Vicki Lynn Ruiz (historian) and Alice Waters (author and food activist).
The first National Humanities Medal was awarded in 1996. Since then, there have been 175 recipients, 163 individuals and 12 organisations, including this year’s. The White House also announced recipients of the 2014 National Medal of Arts.
Jhumpa is an Indian-American author who was born as Nilanjana Sudeshna but goes by her nickname (or in Bengali her “Daak naam”) Jhumpa. Her debut short story collection ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and her book ‘The Lowland’ was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize.
She is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.