Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was chosen by this year’s judges: 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 said:
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.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie comments:
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 PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and promotes literature, in memory of Nobel-Laureate 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’.
Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter’s widow, said:
I greet the tenth award of the PEN Pinter Prize with great enthusiasm. Not only is Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie a brilliant, compelling writer but she embodies in herself those qualities of courage and outspokenness which Harold much admired.
Antonia Byatt, Director of English PEN, said:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing and activism has travelled across so many frontiers showing us what is important in the world. She is a very worthy winner of this extraordinary prize.
During the event, Chimamanda will announce her co-winner, the International Writer of Courage 2018, selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The recipient will be an international writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty. The PEN Pinter Prize 2017 was awarded to poet Michael Longley, who shared the prize with Iranian poet Mahvash Sabet.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the prize, in addition to the annual pamphlet containing this year’s lecture, Faber & Faber, with the support of the Pinter Estate, will be privately printing a limited edition anthology of the ten PEN Pinter Prize lectures. Both will be available to the audience at the event. Tickets on sale soon at www.bl.uk.
Former winners of the PEN Pinter Prize are: 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). Former International Writers of Courage have been: Mahvash Sabet (2017), Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury a.k.a.Tutul (2016), Raif Badawi (2015), Mazen Darwish (2014), Iryna Khalip (2013), Samar Yazbek (2012), Roberto Saviano (2011), Lydia Cacho (2010) and Zarganar (Maung Thura) (2009).
Photo credit: Wani Olatunde