Washington,September11: President Barack Obama presented the 2014 National Medals of Arts and Humanities to Pulitzer Prize winning Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri and 20 other distinguished persons at a White House ceremony.
"The men and women that we honour today, recipients of the National Medals for the Arts and the Humanities, are here not only because they`ve shared rare truths, often about their own experience, but because they`ve told rare truths about the common experiences that we have as Americans and as human beings," Obama said.
The humanities medal honours an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation`s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens` engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans` access to cultural resources.
Lahiri`s novel "The Lowland" was among the books Obama took with him while vacationing in Martha`s Vineyard, an island summer resort in Massachusetts, last month.
"The Lowland" is a story about two brothers who grew up in Calcutta in the 1960s. After one is killed, the other marries his pregnant widow and moves to the US. The New York Times calls the premise of this novel "startlingly operatic".
Other awardees included artists, historians, writers, a philosopher, scholar, preservationist, food activist and an education course.