The Novel based on Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh titled Into the Hidden Valley has won 2016 MM Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction in the United Kingdom. The novel is authored by Stuart Blackburn.
The novel, Into the Hidden Valley looks into a little-known episode in the colonial history of British India. It brings alive the world of the Apatanis and portrays the impact of British colonialism. It dramatises the encounter by telling two stories, one of a British official and the other of a tribesman. Importantly, the Apatani, also known as Tanw, Apa and Apa Tani, are a tribal group of people living in the Ziro valley in the Lower Subansiri district of India’ North East state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The author was presented with this award at the HNS Conference in Oxford.
US-born Stuart Blackburn spent over two and a half years in the rice fields and villages of south India, where he learned to speak Tamil. He has authored or edited 16 books on Indian culture and folklore, mainly in south India and northeast India. His first novel Murder in Melur was set in south India. One book, a study of shadow puppet theatre in Kerala, won the runner-up prize for the UK Folklore Book of the Year, while a translation of an early Tamil novel won the A K Ramanujan Prize in the US. Prior to writing novels Bennetts was a French translator. He was also longstanding book critic for the Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’.
The author had completed his doctorate (PhD) in Tamil language and international folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980.
The MM Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction is the prestigious literary award has been named in memory of writer-historian MM Bennetts, who was considered a specialist in early 19th century British history and the Napoleonic wars as well as a keen cross country and dressage rider.