The Saraswati Samman for the year 2016 was bestowed upon the noted Konkani writer Mahabaleshwar Sail in August 2017. He was honored for his critically acclaimed novel Hawthan which brings to light the cultural lives of the traditional potter community in Goa. He was presented with a plaque, a citation and a cash prize of Rs.15 lakh.
- He is a native of Shejebag, Majali, Karwar in Karnataka where he was born 74 years back. He is a bilingual writer and writes equally well in both Konkani and Marathi. He has 4 Marathi dramas, 7 Konkani novels, five short stories, a novel in Marathi and also children’s literature to his name.
- He is famous for his work Paltadcho Munis in Konkani on which a film is also made. His short story collection Tarangan in Konkani won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993.
- His writing is characteristic of in-depth research, exceptional character depiction and strong female heroines.
- Hawthan– It is the story of the degrading conditions of life of the ‘kumhar’ or the potter community. As the need for traditional pottery declines in society, the community is pushed to ruination. The word Hawthan is the name of the baking pit where pots are baked, and the story depicts the rituals associated with the sacred space. It is the familiar story of a dying tradition of art and with it the death of a way of life. His major concern is the helplessness and frustration that follows such a demise. It is the first work in Konkani selected for the prestigious award.
- It is considered among the highest literary award in India. It is awarded annually, for outstanding prose or poetry works in any of the 22 Indian languages mentioned in the Schedule 8 of Indian Constitution.
- The work must be published in the last ten years, and the author must be an Indian citizen.
- The award was initiated by the G.Birla Foundation in 1991 and has already had 25 awardees, the first being Harivanshrai Bachchan for his autobiography in four volumes.
- The award carries a cash prize of 15 lakh, a citation, and a plaque.