Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, also known as the ‘Queen of Expat Fiction,’ was one of the most underrated writers of the 20th century. She led a life that was both miraculous and inspiring, having won an Oscar, a Booker Prize, and a BAFTA award. Despite her numerous accolades, her story remains mostly unknown, and her works remain underappreciated. Born in Germany but raised in Britain, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s journey was nothing short of extraordinary. Her story teaches us about perseverance, dedication, and the importance of self-belief. Let’s dive into her life and learn about her impressive achievements.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was born on May 7, 1927, in Cologne, Germany, to a Jewish family. In 1939, her family fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to Britain. Ruth attended Queen Mary’s College in London and later earned a degree in English literature at Cambridge University. In 1951 Ruth got married and moved to India with her husband, Cyrus Jhabvala, who was a Parsi businessman. India became Ruth’s home for the next 24 years, and it was here that Ruth honed her writing skills and wrote numerous works that beautifully captured Indian society and culture.
Ruth’s writing style and her characters were unique and seemed to come to life on the pages. Her works have been translated into 15 languages, and it is said that her stories are some of the most accurate depictions of Indian life. Her early works, such as To Whom She Will and The Nature of Passion, explored themes of love and longing, while her later works, such as The Householder and Heat and Dust, dealt with the cultural clash between India and the West. Her works won over critics and readers alike.
Ruth’s literary achievements didn’t stop there. In 1975, she won the Booker Prize for her novel, Heat and Dust. In 1983, Ruth adapted E. M. Forster’s novel A Passage to India into a movie that won two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. Ruth’s success as a screenwriter continued with movies like ‘Howards End’ and ‘Room with a View,’ which went on to become classics in their own right.
In 2002, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala received the Padma Bhushan Award, one of India’s highest civilian awards, for her contribution to literature. Her writing has inspired generations of writers and has had a profound impact on Indian literature. Even with all her success, Ruth reflects that she continued to write “untethered by praise or blame.”
In conclusion, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s story is one of resilience and perseverance. Her journey from Germany to India, her extensive work, her incredible awards, and her contributions to literature are nothing short of miraculous. Her works continue to inspire generations of writers to this day. Ruth’s story reminds us that we are capable of achieving our dreams if we work hard and believe in ourselves. Her words have and will continue to resonate with readers around the world. Let us take a moment to celebrate the legacy of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the ‘Queen of Expat Fiction’.