Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga wins PEN Pinter prize

Tsitsi Dangarembga, the Booker-shortlisted Zimbabwean author who was arrested final yr in Harare whereas protesting in opposition to corruption, has been awarded the PEN Pinter prize, praised for her “skill to seize and talk very important truths even amidst instances of upheaval”.

The prize is given by free speech campaigners English PEN in reminiscence of the Nobel laureate Harold Pinter. It goes to a author of “excellent literary benefit” who, as Pinter put it in his Nobel speech, exhibits a “fierce mental willpower … to outline the true fact of our lives and our societies”. Earlier winners embody Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood and Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Tsitsi Dangarembga (centre) and a colleague Julie Barnes are arrested throughout an anti-corruption protest in July 2020 in Harare. {Photograph}: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Photographs

Dangarembga is the creator of Nervous Circumstances, which she wrote when she was 25, and which was described by Doris Lessing as one of the crucial essential novels of the twentieth century. The story of a village woman known as Tambudzai, it was adopted by The E-book of Not, about Tambu’s teenage years, and the Booker-shortlisted This Mournable Physique, the third a part of the trilogy, set within the postcolonial Zimbabwe of the Nineties. Dangarembga can also be a film-maker, playwright and activist, who was arrested final summer season whereas protesting in Harare, charged with intention to incite public violence. Her case has not progressed, and free speech organisations, alongside along with her fellow writers, have known as for the costs in opposition to her to be dropped.

“I’m grateful that my casting – within the phrases of Harold Pinter – an ‘unflinching, dependable gaze’ upon my nation and its society has resonated with many individuals throughout the globe and this yr with the jury of the PEN Pinter prize,” stated Dangarembga. “I consider that the constructive reception of literary works like mine helps to show that we will unite round that which is positively human.”

The Guardian’s affiliate editor for tradition and English PEN trustee Claire Armitstead praised Dangarembga’s “uncommon and exemplary profession”, which has seen her make “issues occur for different individuals in addition to reaching in her personal proper”.

“Via her trilogy of novels … she has charted the event of Zimbabwe from a British colony to an autocratic and troubled free state,” stated Armitstead. “In doing so, she has held a magnifying glass as much as the struggles of strange individuals, in so many components of the world, to guide good lives within the more and more corrupt and fractured new world order. Hers is a voice all of us want to listen to and heed.”

Armitstead’s fellow decide, the literary critic and writer Ellah P Wakatama, stated that Dangarembga’s work “demonstrates diligence, stoicism, and the flexibility to seize and talk very important truths even amidst instances of upheaval … It’s an honour to hitch my colleagues in elevating up the voice of a lady whose phrases have written the story of my nation of delivery with a readability, bravery and honesty that could be a uncommon and valuable reward,” she added.

Dangarembga will ship a keynote speech at a ceremony on 11 October, when she is going to announce the co-winner of her prize – an Worldwide Author of Braveness who’s “lively in defence of freedom of expression, typically at nice danger to their very own security and liberty”.

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