Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga bags PEN Pinter prize
Praised for her “ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval”, Tsitsi Dangarembga, the Booker-shortlisted Zimbabwean writer has been awarded the PEN Pinter prize. The writer was arrested last year in Harare while protesting against corruption and charged with intention to incite public violence.
The prize is given by free speech campaigners English PEN in memory of the Nobel laureate Harold Pinter. It goes to a writer of “outstanding literary merit” who, as Pinter put it in his Nobel speech, shows a “fierce intellectual determination… to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. Previous winners include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Dangarembga is the author of Nervous Conditions, which she wrote when she was 25, and which was described by Doris Lessing as one of the most important novels of the 20th century. The story of a village girl called Tambudzai, it was followed by The Book of Not, about Tambu’s teenage years, and the Booker-shortlisted This Mournable Body, the third part of the trilogy, set in the postcolonial Zimbabwe of the 1990s.
“I am grateful that my casting – in the words of Harold Pinter – an ‘unflinching, unswerving gaze’ upon my country and its society has resonated with many people across the globe and this year with the jury of the PEN Pinter prize,” said Dangarembga. “I believe that the positive reception of literary works like mine helps to prove that we can unite around that which is positively human.”
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