By Aiyushman Dutta
Award-winning Naga poet and author Easterine Kire has added yet another feather to her cap by winning the Book of the Year Award for fiction at the Tata Literature Live Awards 2017 with her book ‘Son of the Thundercloud’. The award was announced on Sunday evening at the Tata Literature.
Live event in Mumbai where publishers and writers from over 100 countries are participating.
Kire’s book was long-listed alongside Arundhati Roy’s ‘Ministry of Utmost Happiness’, Sujit Saraf’s ‘Harilal and Sons’, Shahnaz Bashir’s ‘Scattered Souls’, Anees Salim’s ‘The Small Town Sea’ and Meena Kandasamy’s ‘When I Hit You’.
The Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Award had been constituted to recognise noteworthy work in the Indian literary space across fiction and nonfiction genres. The winner of the Best Book of the Year award, Kire’s ‘Son of the Thundercloud’ is being acclaimed as a classic allegory of love and hope.
Talking to the writer and the media on receipt of her winning the award, Easterine said, “I loved writing that book. I had such joy writing that book. It was how I saw the boy Jesus growing up as a Naga boy playing with slingshots and making mud pellets. It was real fun.
My publisher said it was a story that showed love and life were eternal, and it was easy to show that by using our approach to spirituality in our cultures.”
When asked about winning the honour, Kire, who is based in Norway, told the writer and other media houses: “This is a blessing to all of us, not just to me, but God’s way of recognizing the North-easterners and telling us ‘I love you guys'”.
The author maintains that if one uses a combination of fantasy and folktale, it is easy to create characters that are ‘four hundred years old or beyond.’ She also admitted that the characters became real to her, almost like family. “I worked out some personal issues with this book…” she adds.
While acknowledging her publisher Speaking Tiger for believing in the book, Kire thanked her readers, friends and family for their support. “It’s very special to get a publisher who believes in your work,” she added.
On her work being shortlisted among literary heavyweights like Arundhati Roy who was the winner of the 1997 Booker Prize, Kire humbly says it was an honour to have her work alongside Roy’s. “I am a big fan of her (Roy),” she said.
Kire’s earliest work came in Nagaland as early as the 1980s. With her book ‘Kelhoukevira’ (1982), she became the first individual Naga to have a volume of poetry published, while her first novel ‘A Naga Village Remembered’ (2003) has the distinction of being the first Naga novel to be written/published in English by a Naga writer.
She is a recipient of the Nagaland Governor’s Award for excellence in literature in 2011, and the Catalan PEN International Free Voice Award.
She has authored more than 25 books. Kire’s novel ‘Bitter Wormwood’ also got nominated for The Hindu Lit Prize in 2013 and in 2016, she was awarded The Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2015 for her novel ‘When the River Sleeps’.
Her new book, ‘Don’t Run My Love’ is due out any day now. She describes it as a love story with a twist for younger readers.