Just about a week after being trolled by thousands of Nigerians –if not millions- for her views on chivalry, 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”.
The renowned author, while accepting the PEN Pitzer award said, “I admired Harold Pinter’s talent, his courage, his lucid dedication to telling his truth, and I am honored to be given an award in his name.”
Judges for the award did not hold back on their praise for Adichie. “In this age of the privatized, marketized 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.”
Adichie will be awarded the prize on 9th October, as she also prepares to announce her co-winner, the International Writer of Courage (2018). Adichie will choose an author “who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty”.
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.
Last year’s winner, the Belfast poet Michael Longley, shared the honor with the Iranian poet Mahvash Sabet.