Bengali writer and social activist Manoranjan Byapari won The Hindu Prize 2018 for non-fiction on Sunday. Byapari bagged the prize for Interrogating my Chandal Life: An Autobiography of a Dalit, an English translation of his memoir Itibritte Chandal Jivan.
Born into a Dalit family in Bangladesh, with no access to formal education, he grew up doing odd jobs. He dabbled into party politics and became a small-time gunda for which he had to serve a jail term. But it was in prison where he learnt his first alphabet. After serving his term, he quit his life of crime and began working as a rickshaw puller
However, it was a meeting with celebrated author Mahasweta Devi that completely changed his life. The meeting inspired him to turn into a writer. In the 1980’s, he started writing against caste oppression. Till now, he’s written a dozen books and more than 100 short stories. In 2014, he was honoured by the Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi.