The Kennedy Center

Nayantara Sahgal



Biography

Nayantara Sahgal is a novelist and political commentator who has published nine novels and eight works of non-fiction. One of the first Indian writers in English to make a mark on an international readership, she won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Eurasia) in 1986 for Plans for Departure, while Rich Like Us won the Sinclair Fiction Prize in 1985 and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1986. Born into the ‘first family’ on Indian politics - the Nehrus - Sahgal saw at firsthand India’s emergence as an independent nation under the prime-ministership of her maternal uncle, Jawaharlal Nehru, and her cousin, Indira Gandhi’s rise to power. She was a member of the Sahitya Akademi’s Advisory Board for English, till she resigned during the Emergency of 1975; she has been a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Humanities Center and the Bunting Institute, USA. She also served on the jury of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1990 and 1991. In 1990 she was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1997 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for Literature by the University of Leeds, and was given the Alumna Achievement Award by Wellesley College in 2002. Honoring her for “bravely confronting authority in defense of the world’s largest democracy,” the award acknowledged her as “an ardent and eloquent writer whose bravery and passion have inspired all of us as we seek freedom through just democratic governance.”
Nayantara Sahgal