The prize was established in 2009 in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter, and awarded to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Commonwealth or the former Commonwealth.
The African writer will therefore be present during a ceremony hosted by British Library and English PEN on 11 October for a keynote address.
She has earned the floor for casting an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’ as Harold Pinter would say.
Tsitsi Dangarembga is not just a writer. She is a face fighting for freedom of critics and the reformation of institutions in Zimbabwe:
“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 2021. I believe that the positive reception of literary works like mine helps to prove that we can unite around that which is positively human.”
Tsitsi Dangarembga and her parents returned to their homeland when the country became autonomous leaving behind everything including her studies at the University of Cambridge where she was studying medicine as of then.
In Zimbabwe, she started all over taking psychology at the University of Zimbabwe and later took a film course in Germany.
It was in 1988 that Tsitsi Dangarembga landed international recognition as a writer after publishing her debut novel “Nervous Conditions”.
It was a fiction that reflected the struggles of a young girl growing and battling to scale above poverty and get to education in the then Rhodesia, before the country gained its freedom from Britain colonial power in 1980.
Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions became the first book published in English by a black Zimbabwean woman. It also won the Commonwealth Book Prize for fiction in 1989. And was later named in 2018 by BBC as one of 100 stories that shaped the world.
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.