|Born||13 July 1941|
Ambala district, Haryana, India
|Died||11 December 2017|
|Education||BA, MA, PhD|
|Alma mater||Indraprastha College for Women (BA);|
Stony Brook University (MA);
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (PhD)
|Occupation(s)||Poet, writer, novelist, scholar|
|Years active||Since 1962|
|Spouse||Adishwar Lal Jain|
|Children||Anu K. Mittal, Ravi K. Jain, Shashi K. Jain|
The Vreeland Award (1969)
Marie Sandoz Prairie Schooner Fiction Award
Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan Award
Delhi Hindi Academy Award
Nirala Namit Award
Mahadevi Varma Samman
Prabha Khetan Award
Brahmi Sundari Award
Sulochini Writer Award
UP Sahitya Bhushan Award
The Vyas Samman Award (2015)
D.Litt. University of Burdhwan, 2015
Sunita Jain (1941–2017) was an Indian scholar, novelist, short-story writer and poet of English and Hindi literature. She was a former professor and the Head of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. She published over 80 books, in English and Hindi, besides translating many Jain writings and some Hindi literature into English. She is featured in the Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English and was a recipient of The Vreeland Award (1969) and the Marie Sandoz Prairie Schooner Fiction Award (1970 and 1971). The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri in 2004. In 2015 she was awarded the Vyas Samman by the K.K. Birla foundation for outstanding literary work in Hindi. In 2015 she was awarded an honorary D.Litt. from the University of Burdhwan, West Bengal.
Born into a Goel Jain family on 13 July 1941 in the Ambala district of the Indian state of Haryana, Sunita's family moved to Delhi when she was a teenager. She completed her B.A. from Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi at the age of 18.
She married in Delhi soon after she graduated and left for Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband, after which she spent short stints in Zurich, Switzerland and New Delhi, India, before settling in Stony Brook, Long Island, in 1965. Jain did her post-graduate studies at the State University of New York in American English Literature. In 1968 she moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where she secured a doctoral degree (PhD) from the University of Nebraska.
Returning to India in 1972, after short teaching stints at Indraprastha College and Aurobindo College, she joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and became the Head of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, from where she retired in 2002 as a Professor of English.
While at IIT, Delhi, she encouraged the expansion of the Humanities Department and was instrumental in broadening the degree programs to include a master's and PhD program.
She started writing at the age of 22 and has published short-stories, novels and poems in Hindi and English. Her works in English include A Girl of Her Age, a novel published in 2000 and two short-story anthologies, A Woman is Dead and Eunuch of Time and Other Stories, published in 1980 and 1982 respectively. She published seven poetry anthologies and some of those poems have been reprinted under the titles, Sensum: Collected Poems 1965-2000 and American Desi and Other Poems. Besides, she has also written a book for children under the name, The Mango Tree (2002) and literary criticism, John Steinbeck's Concept of Man : a Critical Study of his Novels. Her short-stories have been included in two multi-writer short-story collections, Short Short Stories Universal (1993) and Concert of Voices: An Anthology of World Voices in English (1994).
From the mid 1980’s Sunita Jain largely focused on writing in Hindi. Her style was personal with very strong feminist underpinnings. She wrote in very refined, pure Hindi, garnering significant recognition and accolades from the Hindi literature community in India and world over. Jain's autobiography has been written in Hindi as also five novels, nine short-story collections, and over fifty poem anthologies and several volumes of poetry collections. As a true bilingual writer, she was often asked to translate other Hindi literature into English. Examples of her religious translations include, Inner Light (1999), a five-volume book on religious thoughts, Confluence of Seasons (2010), poems of Kalidasa, and Mukti (2006), poems of Muni Kshamasagar, a Jain holy person. In addition, she has translated, Jainendra Kumar's Premchand: A Life and Letters (1993) and Bunty a novel by Mannu Bhandari.
Sunita Jain’s writing has been reviewed and referenced in dozens of publications as well as being the subject of many research publications and doctoral thesis. Several contemporary Hindi literature courses at major universities around the world incorporate the study of her work. After her death, her family published the first translation into English, of a selection of her Hindi poetry Nothing is Lost (2000).
She received The Vreeland Award of the University of Nebraska in 1969 and Marie Sandoz Prairie Schooner Fiction Award twice, in 1970 and 1971. She was awarded the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan Award in 1979 and 1980, followed by the Delhi Hindi Academy Award in 1996. The Government of India awarded her the civilian honor of Padma Shri in 2004. She is a recipient of other honors such as Nirala Namit Award (1980), Sahityakar Samman (1996), Mahadevi Varma Samman (1997), Prabha Khetan Award, Brahmi Sundari Award, Sulochini Writer Award and UP Sahitya Bhushan Award. In 2015 she was awarded the Vyas Samman by the K.K. Birla foundation for her poetry collection Kshama.
Sunita Jain died in New Delhi on 11 December 2017 after a short battle with a rare blood disorder.
Sunita Jain's collection of writings, awards, private papers, etc., are part of the permanent collection in the archives of Jamia Millia Islamia University at the Premchand Archives & Literary Centre: http://jmi.ac.in/jpalc/collections
In honor of her achievements, her family established the Sunita Jain Literary Award at her alma mater the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
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