The award giving ceremony was held in a festive manner at hotel Inter Continental Dhaka on Thursday
Eminent author Shaheen Akhtar has been awarded the Gemcon Shahitya Puroshkar 2019 for her novel Oshukhi Din.
The oldest non-government literary prize award includes Tk8 lakh prize money -- the biggest among such awards.
A jury comprising the likes of Dr Akram Hossain, poet Habibullah Siraji, Prof Syeda Akhtar, Prof Jahar Sen Majumder, and Dr Aniruddha Kahaly braved the daunting task of assessing five books, and select the winner of this year's prize.
The award giving ceremony was held in a festive manner at hotel Inter Continental Dhaka on Thursday evening, on the sidelines of Dhaka Lit Fest 2019 which began at Bangla Academy earlier in the morning.
Before the award was announced, Kazi Anis Ahmed, director of Dhaka Lit Fest, said: "Conferring this award upon the distinguished authors over the years has not only increased their greatness, but by accepting it, the authors have lent credibility to the award itself."
Jury member Habibullah Siraji, director general of Bangla Academy, said: "Even though our task was arduous, we have been able to come to a decision. I believe it to be my great pleasure to announce Shaheen Akhtar as this year's recipient of the Gemcon Shahitya Puroshkar."
He read a congratulatory note from Kazi Shahed Ahmed, chairman of Gemcon Group.
In her acceptance speech, Shaheen Akhtar said: "The novel spans the World Wars, famines, riots, and the Partition, when our colonizers were leaving and the maps were redrawn. The book is about two women of two generations, from two different worlds, reminiscing and memorializing."
She thanked the jury and Dhaka Lit Fest for the honour.
The writer had previously won the Bangla Academy Literary Award for fiction in 2015.
The previous winners of the Gemcon Sahitya Puroshkar are: Mamun Hossain (2003), Shahidul Zahir (2004), Syed Manzoorul Islam (2006), Syed Shamsul Haq (2007), Selim Al Deen (2008), Nirmalendu Goon (2009), Wasi Ahmed (2010), Parvez Hossain (2011), Zakir Talukder (2012), Ahmad Mostafa Kamal (2013), Hasan Azizul Haque (2014), Salma Bani (2015), Moinul Ahsan Saber (2016), Mohammad Rafique (2017), and Prasanta Mridha (2018).
Earlier in the day, the Gemcon Torun Kathashahitya Puroshkar and the Gemcon Kobita Puroshkar were awarded to Abhisek Sarkar and Rofiquzzaman Rony, respectively.
Previous winners of the Gemcon Tarun Katashahitya Puroshkar are: Prasanta Mridha, Sameer Ahmed, Zakir Talukder, Saad Kamali, Humayun Malik, Sakira Pervin, Salma Bani, Mahbub Morshed, Nasima Anis, Hamim Kamrul Haque, Tapan Bagchi, Shajan Shilon, Emran Kabir, Moom Rahman, Anif Rubed, Mehedi Ullah, Afsana Begum, Rubaiyat Ahmed, Mostafiz Karigor, Ashraf Jewel, Mamun Or-Rashid, and Hamim Kamal.
Sakira Parvin, Nusrat Nusin,and Nayeem Hasan were awarded the Gemcon Kobita Puroshkar in previous years.
The day's sessions included a plenary titled Fiction: Resistance or Refuge with Monica Ali, Maria Lepecki, Yara Rodrigues Fowler, Minna Lindgren and Sumana Roy. The authors from four corners of the world -- Brazil, England, Finland and India -- discussed the potential of fiction in "an age that is, at least on the surface, increasingly averse to contemplation."
The Dhaka Lit Fest 2019 was inaugurated Thursday, November 7. The festival will be open from 10am to 7:30pm till Saturday. The festival is open to all and can be freely accessed upon online registration.