The Mukherjees were fast asleep at their Safdarjung Enclave home when the phone rang at 1.30am on Tuesday. “I have won the Pultizer!” said their 40-year-old son, Siddhartha. As his sleepy mother tried to grasp the words, he explained, “The Pulitzer... it’s like the Nobel prize of literature.”
The parents of the New York-based oncologist, who has just won the prestigious award in the non-fiction category for his book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, haven’t ever felt prouder. “The calls just won’t stop!” says his mother Chandana.
Siddhartha, who is married to MacArthur-winning artist Sarah Sze and has two daughters aged five and one, studied at Delhi’s St Columba’s school before leaving for Stanford University and Harvard Medical School. He is also a classical singer, artist and a dal-bhaat-aloo bhaaja buff.
“It’s a great honour, but Siddhartha wears his accomplishments lightly,” says his Delhi-based school friend Pankaj Vir Gupta, who spoke to him after the win. Author William Dalrymple, who met Siddhartha at the Jaipur Lit Fest in January, says, “It’s fantastic. Indian non-fiction has arrived!”
More about Siddhartha
* He and his Chinese-American wife Sarah were invited to dinner by the Obamas in February
* He is a fan of Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore
* He has been honoured by Time magazine and The New York Times.
Other Indian-origin pulitzer pocketers
* Jhumpa Lahiri in 2000, for her collection of short stories: Interpreter of Maladies (don’t miss the ‘malady’ connection!)
* Geeta Anand in 2003: shared the prize for explanatory journalism with the staff of Wall Street Journal
* Gobind Behari Lal in 1937: shared the award for the coverage of science at the Harvard University.