By Kylie Kiunguyu
For her “sophisticated” approach to “gender, race and global inequality” literary force Chimamanda Adichie can add the PEN Pinter Prize to her immense award treasure trove
The 10th PEN Pinter Prize will be given on October 9th to Nigerian writer and novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the British Library. The PEN Pinter Prize named in memory of the Nobel Prize-winning British playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, Harold Pinter goes to writers from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth, who in the words of Pinter’s Nobel 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.”
On receiving the award Adichie 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 judging panel included Maureen Freely (English PEN chief and chair of the jury), Philippe Sands (president of English PEN), Alex Clark (writer and critic) and Inua Ellams (poet, playwright and performer).
The panel praised Adichie’s “refusal to be deterred or detained by the categories of others”.
“In this age of the privatised, marketised self, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the exception who defies the rule,” said Maureen Freely, chair of trustees for English PEN. “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.”
Biographer Antonia Fraser; Harold Pinter’s widow and another judge saluted Adichie as a writer saying, “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.”
The award is given by English PEN, and is supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, Ruth Maxted, and the Thompson Family Charitable Trust. Antonia Byatt, director of English PEN, said Adichie’s writing and activism had “traveled across so many frontiers, showing us what is important in the world” and that she is “a very worthy winner of this extraordinary prize.”
Adichie will also get to announce the corresponding award to the 2018 International Writer of Courage, who is selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The organization describes this recipient as, “An international writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty.”
In this 10th year of the prize a limited-edition anthology of the 10 Pinter Prize lectures will be produced and offered to the audience on the day.