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Zimbabwean Novelist, Tsitsi Dangarembga Wins PEN Pinter Prize 2021

Zimbabwean multi-award-winning novelist and filmmaker, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Tuesday scooped the esteemed PEN Pinter Prize annual literature award for 2021.

The PEN Pinter Prize which is awarded annually to winners was introduced over a decade ago in 2009 as a tribute to Nobel Laureate, Harold Pinter.

Dangarembga, an activist in her own right, has continued to add her voice to that of many others advocating for a better political, social and economic landscape in the country.

In July 2020, she was arrested while partaking in anti-corruption demonstrations in Harare and charged with intention to incite public violence.

She was selected by a panel of judges; English Pen trustee, Claire Armistead, Ellah Wakatama and Andrew McMillan who described her as a ‘voice of hope’.

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The award honours her remarkable literary work which ‘defines the real truth of our lives and our societies’.

“Tsitsi Dangarembga’s work through her books, activism and film demonstrates diligence, stoicism and the ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval.

“It is an honour to join my colleagues in raising up the voice of a woman whose words have written the story of my country of birth with a clarity, bravery and honesty that is a rare and precious gift,” said Wakatama.

Through her famous novel trilogy which starts off with Nervous Conditions (1988), The Book of Not and finally Booker shortlisted, This Mournable Body, she has exposed struggles faced by Zimbabweans, women in particular using her femme protagonist, Tambudzai.

In celebrating her huge win, Dangarembga said she was proud that her writing was relatable to readers across the world.

She will deliver her keynote address at a ceremony to be hosted by British Library and English PEN on the 11th of October.

“I am grateful that my casting in the words of Harold Pinter an ‘unflinching, unswerving gaze’ upon my country and its society has resonated with many people across the globe and this year with the jury of the PEN Pinter prize.

“I believe that the positive reception of literary works like mine helps to prove that we can unite around that which is positively human,” she said.

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Written by PH

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