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Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga wins PEN Pinter prize

By Keith Mlauzi | Nehanda Showbiz |

Booker-shortlisted Zimbabwean writer, Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was arrested last year in Harare while protesting against corruption, has been awarded the PEN Pinter prize and praised for her “ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval”.

Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga wins PEN Pinter prize (Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA)
Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga wins PEN Pinter prize (Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA)

The PEN Pinter award is presented by freedom of expression activists English PEM in memory of Nobel laureate Harold Pinter. It is awarded to the writer who in Pinter’s Noble speech, shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination… to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.”

Judge Claire Armistead, the Guardian’s associate editor for culture and an English PEN trustee described Dangarambga as having an ‘unusual’ but ‘exemplary career.’

“Dangarambga has an unusual and exemplary career as a writer, filmmaker and activist, who has made things happen for other people as well as achieving in her own right.

“Though her trilogy of novels, starting with Nervous Conditions in 1988 and culminating 30 years later in her fine, Booker shortlisted This Mournable Body, she charted the development of Zimbabwe from British colony to an autocratic and trouble-free state.

“In doing so, she has held a magnifying glass up to the struggles of ordinary people, in so many parts of the world , to lead good lives in the increasingly corrupt and fractured new world order. Hers is a voice we all need to hear and heed.”

Past winners include Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Canadian Poet Margaret Atwood and Jamaican born Linton Kwesi Johnson.

“I am grateful that my choice, in the words of Harold Pinter an ‘unwavering and unwavering look’ on my country and its society has resonated with many people around the world and this year with the PEN Pinter award jury… I think the positive reception of literary works like mine helps show that we can unite around what is positively human,” said Dangarambga.

The Author and filmmaker is set to deliver a keynote address at the ceremony on 11 October where she will also announce her award’s co-winner. Nehanda Radio