By NewsGram Staffwriter
Washington: US President Barack Obama presented the 2014 National Medals of Arts and Humanities to Pulitzer Prize winning Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri and 20 other distinguished persons at a White House ceremony. This award honors people who have deepened the nation’s understanding of humanities.
She was recognized for her “beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging” which highlight the “Indian-American experience” and broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature.
“I always do good with writers and scientists. Those are my crew,” said Obama in a grey suit and violet tie as he addressed the audience starting with a quote from Emily Dickinson.
He quoted Emily Dickinson, amid laughter, “One of our great poets, Emily Dickinson, once said that truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it. The truth is so rare. It is delightful to tell it — and that’s especially true in Washington.”
Obama added, “The men and women that we honour today, recipients of the National Medals for the Arts and the Humanities, are here not only because they’ve shared rare truths, often about their own experience, but because they’ve told rare truths about the common experiences that we have as human beings.” Lahiri’s novel The Lowland was among the books Obama took with him while vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, last month.
The Lowland is a story about two brothers who grew up in Calcutta in the 1960s. After one is killed, the other marries his pregnant widow and moves to the US. The New York Times calls the premise of this novel “startlingly operatic”.
Other awardees included artists, historians, writers, and among many others were a philosopher, a scholar, a preservationist, a food activist and an education course.
“Without them, there would be no Edible Schoolyard, no Jhumpa Lahiri novels, no really scary things like Carrie and Misery,” said Obama amid laughter.
(With inputs from IANS)