Acclaimed Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been awarded the 2018 PEN Pinter prize.
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 honored 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 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.”
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 defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty”.
The award-winning novelist 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”.