Vikram Seth to receive the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award 2015

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Mumbai, October 21, 2015: Poetry, extremely powerful yet underplayed, is a literary form celebrated at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest and the Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award 2015 will be conferred on Vikram Seth for his inspiring efforts to keep the form alive.

The award will be presented to him on the inaugural day of the festival, October 29, 2015, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point, Mumbai, where the celebrated poet and novelist will also read from his works.

Vikram Seth says, “It feels really nice to get appreciation and one has to accept awards with grace. One needs to be appreciative of being appreciated! I am obviously happy to receive the award!”

The Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award carries a citation, silver plaque and a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakh.

Seth follows strong in the footsteps of Joy Goswami, recipient of the first Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award last year.

Vikram Seth CBE is one of India’s best-known literary exports. He is more popularly known among cultural and literary circles as the author of “The Suitable Boy” and lesser known for his profound and resonant poetry. Yet, he has published six books of poetry all of which have received much international acclaim. His collections of poetry such as his first book of poems, Mappings (1980), to his next, From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983), The Humble Administrator’s Garden (1985), All you who Sleep Tonight (1990), Beastly Tales From Here and There (1991) and Three Chinese Poets (1992) are notable contributions to the Indian English language poetry canon. Adding to the list is his latest release, Summer Requiem (2015).

Seth-the-poet does not see himself as only an Indian writer as he brings to his writing his wide range of interests including Chinese poetry, Urdu calligraphy and his extensive travels. There is much to cherish here, with a range of tones and tonalities from the formal to the deliberately bathetic, from the humorous to the High Romantic. A sample:


You don’t love me at all? O God. O Shit.
You still ‘respect me.’ Thanks. I value it
About as much as one who’s asked to use
A second hat when he’s in need of shoes.
Since, I discover, my own self-respect
Is quite enough to keep my spine erect
Why is it true my ample self-affection

Will not suffice to buoy me in rejection?

Founder and Director, Literature Live!, Anil Dharker, says“In poetry, Vikram is the master of understatement; his form is miniature and intensely personal. In adding the award for Poet Laureate last year, Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest took a major step in bringing to the forefront poets writing in India’s many languages. It is my pleasure to announce Seth as the winner of this year’s Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award. The honour goes to us that he accepted this award. We’re looking forward to seeing him at the festival.”

Dr. Mukund Rajan, Member-Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons, says, “Vikram Seth is widely lauded for his versatility. His collections of poetry have garnered much international acclaim and contribute significantly to the world of poetry, making him a natural choice for this year’s Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award. We’re looking forward to hearing him speak at the festival in Mumbai this year.

As a novelist, Seth’s book, The Golden Gate (1986) was an audacious experiment in form, being a novel in sonnets. However such is Seth’s rigour that the plot actually moves forward, the conversations do not sound stilted or forced into metrical patterns and you’re allowed to have fun along the way. His novel A Suitable Boy came out in 1993 and was immediately included in the pantheon of Indian books that can be read in India and abroad. A companion volume A Suitable Girl is one of the most talked about books that hasn’t been read by anybody yet (because it`s a work in progress).

Seth has received several awards including the Padma Shri, the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the WH Smith Literary Award, among others.

The Tata Literature Live! Awards have been instituted by the festival to celebrate outstanding voices in the Indian literary scene, spanning a wide array of genres and including both distinguished and emerging writers alike. In addition to the above honour, the festival will be recognising new talent through the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award for Fiction and Non-Fiction, noteworthy work through the Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Award for Fiction and Non-Fiction and best business writing through the Tata Literature Live! Business Book Award of the Year.

The Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 for outstanding contribution to the Indian literary space will be conferred upon the legendary writer, Kiran Nagarkar.

One of India’s most important literary festivals, Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest, is back to mark the city’s cultural calendar from 29th October to 1st November, 2015. Over four days, the festival will take place at two venues – National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point (29th October through 1st November 2015) and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu (31st October and 1st November) – bringing together an eclectic mix of authors from around the world.

For more details about Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest, please visit:

Entry to the festival will be free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Tata group is the title sponsor of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest and Landmark is the book store partner.

The festival is conceived by Anil Dharker, the Founder and Director of Literature Live!, which organises the festival with the support of the Tata group.