KOCHI: Renowned writer Anees Salim who won this year’s Sahitya Akademi award in the English category for his novel ‘The Blind Lady’s Descendants’ has said the award bestows him with a huge responsibility as it raises the readers’ expectations in his future works.
Talking to Express, Salim denied reports he had rejected the award. “I haven’t rejected the Sahitya Akademi award. I usually don’t attend award functions. On my behalf, either my publisher or literary agent will receive it,” said Salim.
The Kochi-based writer will be the fourth Malayalee in the history of Sahitya Akademi to be bestowed with the award in the English category. “For me, every award raises the readers’ expectations about one’s work. They will seek more depth and quality. In that sense, this award will enhance my responsibility as a writer,” he said.
Apart from ‘The Blind Lady’s Descendants’ (2014), the writer has four books to his credit - ‘The Vick’s Mango Tree’ (2012), ‘Vanity Bagh’, ‘Tales From a Vending Machine’ (2013) and ‘The Small Town Sea’ (2017). Interestingly, the award-winning book is closely connected to the writer.
“It can be termed as semi-autobiographical. Although I have given a different name to the setting, the story takes place in a Muslim family based in my hometown, Varkala. Even the last work ‘The Small Town Sea’ has a few autobiographical elements in the crux,” he said. Anees who works at an advertising company had earlier won The Hindu Literary Prize for ‘Vanity Bagh’ and the Crossword Book Award for ‘The Blind Lady’s Descendants’.
Although he is happy about the recognition received for the book, Salim doesn’t rest on his laurels. He has already started working on his sixth book. “I have just started writing my next piece and it may or may not find the daylight later. Frankly, it’s too early to comment on it,” said Salim.
Other Malayalee winners
Kamala Das (1985) for ‘Collected Poems’
Arundhati Roy (2005) for ‘The Algebra of Infinite Justice’
Jeet Thayil (2012) for ‘These Errors are Correct’