City-based author wins Sahitya Akademi award

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Ahmedabad:  She was a sculptor and painter who turned to writing at the age of 46. And now, city-based author Esther David has bagged the Sahitya Akademi award.

"The award has come as a pleasant surprise to me. I came to know of it only when reporters began calling me up with congratulatory messages. I have been busy working on my publication 'The man with enormous wings', to be published by Penguin India," said David, adding, "In Gujarat, people know me more as a columnist than as an author, and hence, this recognition of my work in the field of Indian Jewish literature is definitely an honour."

David says that she feels proud of being a Gujarati, and of having been born of Gujarati soil. "I started writing during my third year of graduation, in the field of art criticism and art history. My teacher Sankho Chaudhary, who was a student of Rabindranath Tagore, always encouraged students to work differently and learn practically. He taught us sculpture and art history, and encouraged me to hone my natural flair, that of writing," she says.

While her write-ups on the city have almost always made an impact, her writings on her life-long struggle as a Jew and on her efforts to develop a Jewish identity have been equally accepted.

David's first book, The Walled City, was published in 1997 by East West Books, Madras. It is a story about the forces that unite and divide generations and communities in the walled city of Ahmedabad. This book was later re-published by Syracuse University Press, USA and was listed in the library of modern Jewish Literature.

Her next book was, 'By the Sabarmati', followed by 'The Book of Esther' and'The Book of Rachel'. In August 2007, she wrote her first book for teenagers, titled 'My Father's Zoo'.
The book was a tribute to her father Reuben David and contains stories of the animals that lived or still live in the zoo in Ahmedabad.

Her book Shalom India Housing Society was released on November 4, 2007. Most of her books have revolved around the Bene Israel Jewish community, as she was born in one of these families in Ahmedabad.

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