Legendary Novelist Nabaneeta Dev Sen Passes Away at 81
The pride of Bengal’s literary circle and a Padma Shree awardee, Nabaneeta Dev Sen passed away at around 7.35 p.m. on November 7. The 81-year-old died due to multiple organ failure. Sen was at her Hindustan Park residence in Kolkata when she breathed her last after a long battle with cancer for which she was undergoing treatment.
“She passed away this evening. Today, the family has requested privacy and only close relatives will be allowed to enter the house. Tomorrow, the family will allow her admirers and other personalities to pay their last respects,” said a family member of the writer.
Dev Sen was born to a poet-couple Narendra Dev and Radharani Devi and got married to Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen in 1958. The couple had two daughters together Antara Dev Sen and Nandana Sen.
Sen was an eminent novelist, poetess, and a short-story writer, who won the Mahadevi Verma Award in 1992 and the Sahitya Akademi award in 1999 for her book ‘Naba-Nita’. She also received the prestigious Padma Shree award in 2000. Apart from her literary excellence, she was also famous for her research on the Hindu epic Ramayana. She taught at Oxford University and Colorado College in the US. Dev Sen was also a teacher of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University in Kolkata but retired in 2002.
Dev Sen was born to a poet-couple Narendra Dev and Radharani Devi and got married to Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen in 1958. The couple had two daughters together Antara Dev Sen and Nandana Sen, however, the two took divorce in 1976. After her divorce and when her daughters were in their teenage, Dev Sen went abroad and build her career as a novelist.
During her old age, she lived with her daughter Srabasti Basu who she had adopted from a close friend. Basu is a lesbian rights activist and a single mother.
A fierce voice
Her work as a published novelist dealt with a wide range of issues from social, political, psychological problems like the role of the intellectuals in the Naxalite movement, to the identity crisis of Indian writing in English. She published over 80 books in Bengali encompassing poetry, novels, short stories, plays, literary criticism, personal essays, travelogues, humour, translations and children’s literature starting from Pratham Pratyay in 1959.
Tributes pour in
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee expressed her sorrow on Twitter as she wrote, “Saddened at the passing away of noted litterateur and academic Nabaneeta Dev Sen. A recipient of several awards, her absence will be felt by her myriad students and well-wishers. My condolences to her family and admirers.”
Sen was an eminent novelist, poetess and a short-story writer, who won the Mahadevi Verma Award in 1992 and the Sahitya Akademi award in 1999 for her book ‘Naba-Nita’.
She presided over the Presidency Alumni Association which expressed its condolences in a statement, “We convey our deepest condolences at the sad demise of Nabaneeta Dev Sen, beloved President of Presidency Alumni Association. She was the first woman president of the alumni association.”
Eminent author Amitav Ghosh tweeted, “Saddened to hear of the passing of Nabaneeta Deb Sen. She was a woman of incredible warmth and generosity, a dear friend and a wonderful writer. I will miss her greatly.”
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