Announcing the 2020 Literary Award Winner

Madhuri Vijay Wins Literary Prize from Wisconsin Libraries

The Literary Awards Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association is pleased to announce that Madhuri Vijay’s novel The Far Field is the Literary Award winner for 2020.  This award is for the highest literary achievement by an author with a Wisconsin connection, for a work written in 2019.  

The Far Field is Madhuri Vijay’s first novel, and tells the story of Shalini, a young woman from a  well-to-do family in Bangalore, who has been drifting from job to job, while trying to understand her relationship with her mother, who has recently passed away. Shalini remembers visits from a clothes salesman, Bashir Ahmed, during her childhood, and that Bashir seemed important to her mother. She decides to find Bashir and embarks on what will prove a life-changing journey into the troubled region of Kashmir, where political tension and remnants of conflict can still be felt. While boarding with a kind family in a remote village, Shalini starts to think she can give something to these people and their lives. Ultimately, her efforts are ill-suited, and the novel deftly portrays how well-meaning philanthropy can be undone by the naivety of privilege.

Reading The Far Field during the early weeks of the pandemic shut down, committee members deeply appreciated the armchair travel to Bangalore and Kashmir, while remaining rooted in Wisconsin. Vijay attended Lawrence University in Appleton, and says, “I loved my time there, and the teachers I had at Lawrence were instrumental in my becoming a writer at all. To be recognized in any way as a writer is gratifying, but to be recognized in relationship to a place I love so much is doubly so.”

The 2020 Literary Awards Committee members are comprised of active and retired librarians from across the state.  For more information about the Literary Awards, visit

The Wisconsin Library Association engages, inspires and advocates for library workers and supporters to improve and promote library services for the people of Wisconsin.

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