Writers Dangarembga, Ndlovu awarded US$165k Windham-Campbell Prizes

CONNECTICUT, United States – The eight winners of the 2022 Windham-Campbell Prizes have been announced, with Zimbabwean writers Tsitsi Dangarembga (Nervous Conditions, Faber) and Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (The Theory of Flight, Catalyst Press) taking home the awards for fiction.

Each recipient is awarded an unrestricted grant of US$165,000 to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.

The Windham-Campbell Prizes, marking their 10th anniversary, are one of the world’s most significant international literary awards.

In non-fiction, Margo Jefferson (United States) and Emmanuel Iduma (Nigeria); in drama, Winsome Pinnock (United Kingdom) and Sharon Bridgforth (United States); and in poetry, Wong May (Ireland/Singapore/China) and Zaffar Kunial (United Kingdom) were the other winners.

Administered by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, prize recipients are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously in four categories: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama. The recipients don’t know they are being considered for the prize until they are contacted about the judges’ decision.

PEN Pinter prizewinning Dangarembga’s debut novel Nervous Conditions was the first book to be published in English by a black woman from Zimbabwe. In September 2020, the writer-cum-activist’s novel This Mournable Body was longlisted for the Booker prize in the same week she was arrested during peaceful anti-corruption protests in Harare – she remains on remand.

When she found out that the judges had chosen her for the Windham-Campbell prize, Dangarembga admitted she had been waiting for this news all of her life, “not always believing but constantly hoping”.

She said: “I desperately needed this award, as a writer working on the African continent. Few countries support creativity or the arts in a meaningful manner. Zimbabwe is amongst those that do so least.

“Now I will at last be able to slow down and breathe and contemplate my universe, allowing me do the work I want to do in the way I want to do it. So, basically, the award is life giving. I have been waiting for this all my life, not always believing but constantly hoping. This award gives me space to dream.”

Compatriot and fellow fiction recipient Ndlovu has authored two critically acclaimed novels: “The History of Man” (2020) and “The Theory of Flight” (2018).

Ndlovu was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for The Theory of Flight. 

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