Arundhati Roy earns PEN Pinter Prize for 'powerful voice'

Roy has written numerous books and non-fiction essays, and won the Booker Prize in 1997

Arundhati Roy (photo: PTI)
Arundhati Roy (photo: PTI)

NH Political Bureau

Arundhati Roy has been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2024. This comes two weeks after the Delhi LG sanctioned the prosecution of author Arundhati Roy for her 14-year-old remarks on Kashmir.

"Her powerful voice not to be silenced" said the jury.

The EnglishPEN announced that Roy will receive the award at a ceremony co-hosted by the British Library on 10 October 2024, where she will deliver an address.

Tickets for the event are now available for purchase, according to the EnglishPEN.

The EnglishPEN stated, "The prize will be shared with a Writer of Courage: a writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty."

Roy was chosen as the 2024 PEN Pinter Prize winner in April 2024 by this year’s judges: Chair of English PEN, Ruth Borthwick; actor and activist Khalid Abdalla; and writer and musician Roger Robinson.

Roy has written numerous books and non-fiction essays, but she is best known for her novel, The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997.

Ruth Borthwick commented, "Our congratulations to Arundhati Roy on winning the PEN Pinter Prize 2024. Roy tells urgent stories of injustice with wit and beauty. While India remains an important focus, she is truly an internationalist thinker, and her powerful voice is not to be silenced."

Roger Robinson added, "Arundhati Roy was the unanimous choice for this prestigious award, a testament to her unparalleled contribution to literature. Her vast body of work, encompassing both fiction and non-fiction, has not only captivated readers worldwide but also consistently focused on themes of social justice. Roy’s incisive commentary on issues ranging from environmental degradation to human rights abuses demonstrates her commitment to advocating for the marginalised and challenging the status quo. Her unique voice and unwavering dedication to these causes make her a deserving recipient of this honour."

Expressing her gratitude, Arundhati Roy said, "I am delighted to accept the PEN Pinter Prize. I wish Harold Pinter were with us today to write about the almost incomprehensible turn the world is taking. Since he isn’t, some of us must do our utmost to try to fill his shoes."

The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter.

The prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit residing in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter 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.”

Previous winners include Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard and Carol Ann Duffy.

The PEN Pinter Prize is supported by the generosity of Faber and Ruth Maxted.

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