Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wins PEN Pinter prize

Nigerian author wins award in memory of the late Nobel laureate for her ‘refusal to be deterred or detained by the categories of others’

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been awarded the 2018 PEN Pinter prize. She was hailed by Harold Pinter’s widow, the biographer Antonia Fraser, as a writer who embodies “those qualities of courage and outspokenness which Harold much admired”.

An award-winning novelist – her 2004 debut Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth writers’ prize, Half of a Yellow Sun won her the Orange prize in 2006, and Americanah took the US National Book Critics Circle award in 2014 – Adichie is also known for her TED talks and essays. Her most recent book is Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, which began as advice for a friend about how to raise her daughter as a feminist.

Her 2013 TED talk, We Should All Be Feminists, was later published as a pamphlet and distributed to every 16-year-old in Sweden as part of a campaign by the Swedish Women’s Lobby. Audio from the talk was also sampled by Beyoncé in her song ***Flawless.

The PEN Pinter prize is intended to honour a writer of “outstanding literary merit” who – in the words of Pinter’s speech on winning the Nobel prize in 2005 – 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”. Over the last decade, it has been won by writers including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Tom Stoppard.

“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,” said Adichie.

Judges for the award 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. “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.”

Freely was joined on the judging panel by the writers Philippe Sands, Alex Clark and Inua Ellams, as well as Fraser.

Adichie will be awarded the prize on 9 October, when she will also announce her co-winner, the 2018 International Writer of Courage. Adichie will choose an author “who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty”. Last year’s winner, the Belfast poet Michael Longley, shared the honour with the Iranian poet Mahvash Sabet.

Contributor

Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie accepts PEN Pinter prize with call to speak out
Arguing that authors have a duty to ‘call a lie a lie’, novelist also names human rights activist Waleed Abulkhair as the 2018 International Writer of Courage

Alison Flood

09, Oct, 2018 @7:02 PM

Article image
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie voted Women's prize 'winner of winners'
Nigerian author’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun, which won in 2007, named the best book in the prize’s 25-year history by the public

Alison Flood

12, Nov, 2020 @12:01 AM

Article image
Michael Longley wins PEN Pinter prize for 'unflinching, unswerving' poetry
Northern Irish writer praised by judges for his ‘fierce intellectual determination’ wins annual award in memory of the late Nobel laureate

Danuta Kean

01, Jun, 2017 @5:01 AM

Article image
Philip Roth, Patti Smith and Woody Allen join protest at jailing of Egyptian writer
Authors among 120 prominent writers and artists to co-sign PEN America letter to President Sisi demanding release

David Batty

10, May, 2016 @4:02 PM

Article image
Margaret Atwood wins 2016 PEN Pinter prize
Canadian author says she is humbled to accept reward and is praised by judges for championing environmental and human rights causes

Alison Flood

15, Jun, 2016 @11:01 PM

Article image
David Hare wins PEN/Pinter prize
Playwright David Hare declared 'a worthy winner' of prize established by English PEN to celebrate the late Harold Pinter

Alison Flood

26, Aug, 2011 @4:30 PM

Article image
Baileys prize crowns Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as its 'best of the best'
Half of a Yellow Sun has been named the best winner from the last decade of the women’s prize for fiction

Alison Flood

02, Nov, 2015 @8:30 PM

Article image
James Fenton wins 2015 PEN Pinter prize
The British poet is praised by the jury for ‘speaking truth to power – forcefully, fearlessly and beautifully’

Alison Flood

15, Jun, 2015 @11:01 PM

Article image
Margaret Atwood selects Tutul for Pen writer of courage award
Atwood praises the ‘huge personal courage’ of the Bangladeshi publisher, who survived a machete attack by Islamic extremists and still won’t be silenced

Alison Flood

13, Oct, 2016 @5:30 PM

Article image
'Living legend' Linton Kwesi Johnson wins PEN Pinter prize
The pioneer of dub poetry has been hailed for his ‘political ferocity’ and ‘tireless scrutiny of history’

Alison Flood

07, Jul, 2020 @9:59 AM