Padma Shree Awarded novelist and poet Nabaneeta Dev Sen passed away at around 7:35 p.m on November 7. Bengal’s literary circle’s pride died due to multiple organ failure. The 81-year old 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 received the prestigious Padma Shree award in 2000. She has won the Mahadevi award in 1992 and the Sahitya Akademi award in 1999 for her book ‘Naba-Nita’. 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. A family member of the writer said, “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,”.
Nabaneeta Dev Sen was born in Kolkata into a Bengali family on 13 January 1938. She was the daughter of the poet-couple Narendra Dev and Radharani Devi who wrote under pen name Aparajita Devi. She was named by Rabindranath Tagore. She received her BA in English from Presidency College, Calcutta. She was a student of the inaugural batch of the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University where she obtained MA in Comparative Literature. She then took an MA with Distinction from Harvard University. She earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University.
Nabaneeta Dev Sen was a writer in residence at several international artists’ colonies, including Yaddo and MacDowell Colony in the United States; Bellaggio in Italy; and the Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem.
In 2002, Nabaneeta Dev Sen retired as Professor of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, Calcutta. She worked with the treatment of women in world epics and the treatment of epic poetry by rural women in India.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee expressed her sorrow on Twitter, “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.”
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.”
Actor Roopa Ganguly wrote, “Deeply saddened by the death of Padma Shri Ms. Nabaneeta Dev Sen (Nabaneeta di). #OmShantiOm Her contribution to academics and literature will be remembered forever. Have been quite fortunate to see her very closely. #IMissYou