Acclaimed London-born, Indian-origin author Jhumpa Lahiri is to receive the American National Humanities Medal, which recognizes those who have deepened society’s understanding of the humanities.
U.S. President Barack Obama will present the award to the author at a ceremony in Washington next week.
Mr Obama, who appointed Ms Lahiri to a special national committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2014, praised the author for widening the public’s engagement with literature and “deepening the nation’s understanding of the human experience.
Ms Lahiri’s Man Booker Prize-nominated 2013 novel ‘The Lowland’ is set in India and the United States and stunningly evokes the immigrant experience.
In a statement, the White House said: “In her works of fiction, Dr. Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging”.
Among the other recipients of the Medal this year – best selling author Stephen King and Oscar-winning actress Sally Field.
Previous winners include Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who won it “for his insights into the causes of poverty, famine, and injustice.”
The National Media of Arts is the latest accolade to be granted Ms Lahiri, 48.
In January, she was awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for “The Lowland,”.
Her book “Interpreter of Maladies” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000.
Ms. Lahiri, whose parents originate from West Bengal, was born in London but moved to the U.S. as a child making frequent trips to Kolkata, then known as Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal.
“At many times in my life, I wished I could be like any other American . . . feel really a part of it, really woven into it,” she is reported as saying to the National Endowment for the Humanities which sponsors the National Medal of Arts.
“I couldn’t. I just couldn’t do it. And all of my writing has come out of that.”