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Indian-origin novelist awarded Singapore’s most prestigious arts accolade

Singapore, Dec 6, 2023- Indian-origin novelist Meira Chand has been honoured with the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s most prestigious arts accolade, in support of her artistic pursuits.

Born to Swiss-Indian parents, Chand, 81, is the first English-language female writer to be awarded the Medallion since Ho Minfong in 1997, The Straits Times reported.

She received the award from President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, along with fellow novelist Suchen Christine Lim and Malay dance veteran Osman Abdul Hamid, at a ceremony held at the Istana on December 5.

The award, which comes with a SG$80,000 grant for each recipient, is an initiative by late president and then Minister of Culture, Ong Teng Cheong.

“Each of our three new Cultural Medallion recipients is being recognised for their explorations through life, and for inspiring many others, not least the next generation of artists,” Shanmugaratnam said in a statement.

As an award-winning novelist, Chand is known for their depiction of multicultural societies, and her book, ‘The Painted Cage’, was longlisted for the Booker Prize.

Born in London to a Swiss mother and Indian father, Meira grew up and was educated in the UK.

Her writing career began in India where she lived for five years and described it as “a life changing experience”.

Speaking further of her India experience, Chand writes on her website: “For the first time in my life, I met a half of myself I had never known. There was simply no way I could understand that experience, but through writing”.

Her novels, ‘House of the Sun’, ‘A Far Horizon’, and ‘The Pink White and Blue Universe’, are a reflection of her time in India, and the indelible effect of the country upon her, according to her website.

The Cultural Medallion award has been given to 135 artists since its inception in 1979. (Agency)

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