Doyen of Odia Literature Manoj Das No More

Eminent English and Odia writer Padma Shri Manoj Das breathed his last on Tuesday evening, leaving a void in the literature world. He was 87. For the last year, the writer was undergoing treatment at a Sri Aurobindo ashram’s nursing home in Puducherry for cancer.

Born in the Balasore district of Odisha, his first book of poetry ‘Satavdira Artanada’ was published in 1949 while he was only 14 years and still studying in high school. After completing high school Manoj Das published his first collection of short stories titled ‘Samudrara Kshudha.’

A youth leader in those, he was also jailed for his radical views and revolutionary activities. After completing his degree in English literature from Ravenshaw College, the bilingual author joined as a professor of English literature at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry in 1963 and stayed there.

Considered one of the best storytellers of modern India, he was known for his magnificent style and dramatic expression. He started writing in English in 1968 and his most popular works in the language include ‘The Crocodile’s Lady (1975),’ ‘The Submerged Valley & Other Stories (1986), ‘Cyclones (1987), A Tiger At Twilight (1991) and ‘Chasing the Rainbow: Growing Up in an Indian Village (2004).

His prolific works in Odia include ‘Sesa Basantara Chithi’ (1966), ‘Kabita Utkala’ and travelogue including ‘Kete Diganta’ and ‘Antaranga Bharata.’

Manoj Das was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2001 and Padma Bhusan in 2020. He is also the recipient of the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award (1972), Sarala Award (1981), Saraswati Samman (2000) Sahitya Akademi Fellowship (2006) and several others.

President of India Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condoled the death of the literary icon.

“Deeply saddened to know about the passing away of legendary litterateur Manoj Das. Shri Das has left an indelible mark in the field of literature with his vast variety of immortal works and left a void which can never be filled,” tweeted Patnaik.

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