Poet, novelist and academic Nabaneeta Dev Sen, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2000, passed away in Kolkata on Thursday. She was 81.
Dev Sen has over 80 books in print in multiple genres, and has been translated into many languages. According to reports, Dev Sen herself knew Bengali, English, Hindi, Oriya, Assamese, French, German, Sanskrit, and Hebrew languages. Her contributions and renown in the field of letters is worldwide.A graduate of Kolkata’s Presidency College, Dev Sen had Masters degrees from Jadavpur University and Harvard University. She was a doctorate of Indiana University and has held post-doctoral posts at several universities and academic institutions across the world, including the University of Delhi.
Dev Sen was the vice-president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, the Bengali academy of literature. She also founded and headed the West Bengal Women Writers’ Association. Among her many awards is the Sahitya Akademi Award as well.
Her literature travelled across the variety of genres and forms available and held a mirror to all sorts of political and personal issues. The toast of her immense literary output, however, were her travelogues, which are distinguished by their easy wit and humour.
Among her most popular works are Bama bodhini, Nati Nabanita, Srestha kabita and Sita theke suru.
A champion of the woman or girl protagonist in stories, Dev Sen’s literature is rife with strong female characters. In interviews, she has been forthright in her advocacy for feminism.
With her passing, Bengal loses one of its most vibrant literary voices and social champions. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has condoled her death.In what is both cruel and also reflective of her inherent wisdom, Dev Sen, in a very recent interview to a Bengali daily, spoke of her death and her fans’ apparent obsession with it. “Those people who have never seen me have been travelling down from faraway villages to see me for the last time. Who has said that this is the last time they will see me?! This long life that I have spent, that needs to end in suitable style. We should check the almanac, fix an auspicious day, find an auspicious hour, invite our friends and relatives – only then will I be able to leave!” she was quoted as having said in Bengali.
Dev Sen is survived by her three daughters, Antara, Nandana and Srabasti.