Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda wins another big award

Author of the famous novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has won the 2018 PEN Pinter Prize. Director of English PEN, Antonia Byatt praised her saying, “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing and activism has traveled across so many frontiers showing us what is important in the world. She is a very worthy winner of this extraordinary prize.

Established in 2009 in honour of Nobel laureate and playwright Harold Pinter, “The prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’”.

Judges of this year’s award include: President of English PEN, Philippe Sands; historian, biographer and widow of Harold Pinter, Antonia Fraser; writer and critic, Alex Clark; poet, playwright and performer, Inua Ellams; and Chair of Judges and Chair of trustees for English PEN, Maureen Freely.

Maureen Freely spoke about Chimamanda’s win: “In this age of the privatised, marketised self, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the exception who defies the rule.  In her gorgeous fictions, but just as much in her TED talks and essays, she refuses to be deterred or detained by the categories of others.  Sophisticated beyond measure in her understanding of gender, race, and global inequality, she guides us through the revolving doors of identity politics, liberating us all.”

Widow of Harold Pinter, Antonia Fraser remarked that, “Not only is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a brilliant, compelling writer but she embodies in herself those qualities of courage and outspokenness which Harold much admired.”

In her response to the award Chimamanda said, “I admired Harold Pinter’s talent, his courage, his lucid dedication to telling his truth, and I am honoured to be given an award in his name.”

The 40-year-old author of six (6) books has received awards, honours, scholarships, fellowships including: the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Orange Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Radcliffe fellowship at Harvard University, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, among numerous others. Her books have been translated into over thirty (30) languages. She has delivered commencement speeches at universities and colleges, and over five (5) honorary doctorate degrees have been conferred on her so far.

Previous winners of the PEN Pinter Prize include: Michael Longley, 2017; Margaret Atwood, 2016; James Fenton, 2015; Salman Rushdie, 2014; Tom Stoppard, 2013; Carol Ann Duffy, 2012; David Hare, 2011; Hanif Kureishi, 2010; and Tony Harrison, 2009.

Chimamanda will receive the award in October later this year at a public ceremony at the British Library, where she will deliver a speech and pick the winner of the 2018 International Writer of Courage. Immediate past joint-winners of the International Writer of Courage award were poets, would this year’s prize go to poetry?