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Writer Arundhati Roy wins prestigious essay prize for lifetime achievement

Arundhati Roy has won the 45th Prix Européen de l’Essai for Lifetime Achievement award for her essays.

Apart from her fiction works, the Booker-winning author of The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been a prolific writer of non-fiction on nuclear power, international conflicts and challenges faced by democracies. She has often drawn flak for commenting on matters usually confined to scholarly or academic circles, often getting the appellation ‘writer-activist’.

Roy has often responded to that criticism, saying in a 2002 essay: “I’ve been saddled with this double-barrelled appellation… not because my work is political, but because in my essays, I take sides. I take a position. I have a point of view. What’s worse, I make it clear that I think it’s right and moral to take that position and what’s even worse, use everything in my power to flagrantly solicit support for that position. For a writer of the 21st century, that’s considered a pretty uncool, unsophisticated thing to do.”

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The Charles Veillon Foundation, the institution behind the award, said in a statement, “Arundhati Roy uses the essay as a form of combat.”

“It would be presumptuous, arrogant, and even a little stupid of a writer to believe that she could change the world with her writing,” shared Roy in a statement after the announcement. “But it would be pitiful if she didn’t even try.”

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