March 11, 2000
NEW DELHI, MARCH 10: DistinguishedI Hindi author Nirmal Verma and noted Punjabi novelist Gurdial Singh have jointly won the Jnanpith Award for 1999.
The award was announced by the Jnanpith selection board which met under the chairmanship of Dr L M Singhvi on Friday.
The most prestigious literary award of the country, the Jnanpith has been won earlier by seven Kannada, five Hindi and Bengali, four Malayalam, three Oriya and Urdu, two Gujarati, Marathi and Telugu and one Assamese, Punjabi and Tamil writers.
This is the 35th time the Jnanpith has been conferred since the Bharatiya Jnanpith was set up in 1944.
The Jnanpith was awarded jointly only twice earlier — in 1967 and 1973. Thirty-six writers have so far received the award.
Other members of the selection board were litterateurs Dr Vidyaniwas Mishra, Professor Namwar Singh, Qurratulain Haider, Dr Sitakant Mahapatra, Prof P L Gadgil and Prof Dinesh Misra.
Nirmal Verma is the author of several short stories, novels, essays and travelogues. Gurdial Singh has written nine novels, ten collections of stories, one play, one anthology of one-act plays, ten books for children and two books of prose, among other things.
In its citation, the board said Nirmal Verma re-interpreted and re-shaped the short story. The writer’s, “art powerfully communicates the elusiveness and complexities of emotions and sensibilities in a way that no narrative can”, it said.
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