German-born screenwriter and novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala,the only person to win both an Oscar and a Booker prize and lived in Delhi for 25 years,died here on Wednesday.
Ruth(85),married to an Indian Parsi architect Cyrus H Jhabvala,had a long association with Merchant Ivory Productions which yielded her two Academy Awards for her work on the films ‘A Room with a View’ and ‘Howards End’,both adapted from Edwardian-era novels by E M Forster.
Born into a Jewish family in Cologne,she breathed her last at her home in Manhattan after a long illness.
According to James Ivory,the director with whom she collaborated,the cause of death was complications of a pulmonary condition.
Ruth is survived by husband and daughters Renana,Ava and Firoza-Bibi.
She made more than 20 films with producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory over a period of 40 years.
India was the inspiration for many of her stories,including her eighth novel ‘Heat and Dust’,which won her the Booker in 1975. Merchant Ivory’s 1983 film based on the novel and which starred Shashi Kapoor marked their breakthrough from arthouse exclusivity to popular success.
Ruth wrote 19 novels and short-story collections that reflected the cultures she absorbed on three continents during her half-century career.
The family fled Adolf Hitler in 1939,when Ruth was 12 and she became a British citizen in 1948.
She married Jhabwala in 1951 and moved with him to Delhi,where she spent the next quarter-century as a privileged,somewhat reclusive housewife raising three daughters and writing novels about the new culture in which she found herself. Many readers assumed she was Indian.
According to reports,her last short-story collection,”A Lovesong for India,” was published in 2011,and her last story for The New Yorker appeared in its March 25 issue.
The story,”The Judge¿s Will” tells of a long-married woman in Delhi dealing with the news,and presence,of her husband¿s longtime mistress.