Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the winner of the PEN Pinter Prize 2018. She will receive the award at a public ceremony at the British Library in October, where she will deliver an address.
Adichie was chosen by this year’s judges: president of English PEN Philippe Sands; Antonia Fraser, historian, biographer and widow of Harold Pinter; writer and critic Alex Clark; poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams; and Maureen Freely, chair of judges and trustees for English PEN.
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.”
Fraser 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.”
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 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”.
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.
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).
Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in communication and political science and she also has a master’s in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a master of arts degree in African History from Yale University. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), won the Orange Prize. Her 2013 novel Americanah won the US National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of The New York Times top 10 best books of 2013. Adichie’s work has been translated into more than 30 languages. She has delivered two landmark TED talks: her 2009 TED Talk The Danger of A Single Story and her 2012 TEDx Euston talk We Should All Be Feminists, which started a worldwide conversation about feminism, and was published as a book in 2014. Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017. She was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015, and in 2017, Fortune Magazine named her one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.