Finding the Raga by Amit Chaudhuri wins the James Tait Black Award in the biography category

Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music by novelist and scholar Amit Chaudhuriwon the James Tait Black Prizes biography prize, an annual prize from the University of Edinburgh the UK’s oldest literary prize.

Published by Penguin India, the book is “alternately essay, memoir and cultural study”, detailing Chaudhuri’s personal relationship with North Indian music and its evolution over the years. Simon Cooke, among the judges in the biography category where the book won, called the work “great depth, subtlety and resonance, which quietly changed the way we think about music, place and creativity.” Folding the ethos of the raga into its own form, it is a beautifully voiced and quietly subversive masterpiece in the art of listening to the world”.

Chaudhuri, Professor of Creative Writing at Ashoka University, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009 and was Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia from 2006 to 2021. He is also singer in the Hindustani musical tradition. and performed internationally. He has released two recordings of his singing and has often written about his experiences with classical music, his style described as having “no obvious plot, no determined purpose, no falsehood or other drama… [with] the effect [being] closer to documentary than fiction”, in The New Yorker.

The James Tait Black Awards date back more than a century, after Janet Tait Black née Coats – of the J&P Coats yarn-making family – provided in her will for two annual book awards to be established in memory of her husband. , James Tait The Black. Each year, two academic judges work with postgraduate student readers to assess the entries.

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