Feminist publisher and writer Urvashi Butalia has won the Goethe Medal, an official distinction from the German Federal Republic at the annual Goethe-Institute awards. The medal “honors individuals who have displayed exceptional competence of the German language as well as in international cultural exchange”, said the organisation. Two other women join Butalia in winning this distinction: Lebanese author Emily Nasrallah and Russian journalist, translator and historian, Dr Irina Lasarewna Scherbakowa.
Butalia will receive the award on August 28 in Weimar, Germany.
She has been recognised for her various achievements in publishing, her deep engagement with marginalised social groups, and her voice of reason in the current discourse on women’s issues. Goethe-Institute called her book, The Other Side of Silence, “one of the most influential books in South Asian studies to be published in recent decades...It emphasises the role of violence against women in the collective experience of tragedy.”
Butalia, based in New Delhi, co-founded India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, in 1984. She is currently the publisher of Zubaan Books, which focuses on socially conscious, culturally relevant books for adults and children that challenge various social taboos and gender cliches.
Among the other Indians to have won the award earlier are Seagull Books publisher Naveen Kishore (2013), actor Mohan Agashe (2004), and poet Alokeranjan Dasgupta (1985).