Pragya Mishra Thakur, Author, Dies at 100

Pragya Thakur, an inimitable humorist, satirist and critically acclaimed author, died on Thursday at her home in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was 100.

Ms Thakur had no apparent health problems and died in her sleep. At Ms. Thakur’s side were her husband Anil, 104, daughter Anoushka, 66, granddaughter Ana, 40 and Ana’s 16 year old twin girls Anya and Alyssa.

Ms. Thakur’s writing career soared once she gave up her high-powered financial job at Travel + Leisure magazine in favor of a copy editor’s job in the editorial department of the same magazine. A brave decision to make at the age of forty, her gamble paid off in five short years as she rose through the ranks to become the managing editor of this nation’s leading travel magazine. She earned a name for herself with her soulful travelogues and the popular monthly column –The Miles between Us – that became the mainstay of the magazine and drove several generations of travel enthusiasts to its pages. Writing in The New York Times, the famous travel writer Cuthbert Banks once described Ms. Thakur as “a woman who takes you along on the most exhilarating trip of your life while nestled in the luxurious comfort of the dented couch in your living room.”

Ms. Thakur joined American Express Publishing as a senior planning manager in 2004 and spent, in her own words, several “soul-destroying” years managing profit and loss statements, reviewing balance sheets, managing ratebases while running a writers’ network on the Ryze Business Networking site on the Internet. Shakespeare and Company, the network she ran in those early days of the Internet, went on to become the launching pad for several writers and poets over the years. A close friend she made in cyberspace, a magnanimous patron of the written word, whose name she never disclosed, willed $10 million to the network, filling its coffers and providing the funding necessary for the publication of over fifty debut novels, including Ms Thakur’s own highly successful horror story Bluebird Inn.

Ms Thakur achieved much acclaim and success as an author however, in her recently published autobiography, she noted a deep regret at never being able to realize her dream of becoming a playback singer in Bollywood or of finding time to indulge her passion for creating works of art, of oil on canvas. She did express joy at the vicarious enjoyment of her daughter’s success as an artist and celebrated linguist and her Juilliard graduate granddaughter’s success as an opera singer and concert pianist.

Ms. Thakur is survived by her husband of 76 years, Anil, daughter Anoushka, granddaughter Ana, great-granddaughters Anya and Alyssa, brother, Samir, niece, Saumya and nephew, Sheel.

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