CONNECTICUT, US– In a refreshing development, two Zimbabwean writers- Tsitsi Dangarembga and Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu- have been named amongst the eight winners of the 2022 Windham-Campbell Prizes in which each recipient is awarded a cool US$165 000 to support their work and also ensure that they focus on writing independent of financial concerns.
The prolific pair took home the awards for fiction, with Dangarembga getting rewarded for Nervous Conditions (Faber)- revered for being the first book to be published in English by a black woman from Zimbabwe- while Ndlovu’s The Theory of Flight (Catalyst Press) got her the rich pickings at the literary awards ceremony marking their 10th Anniversary.
The globally-revered Windham-Campbell Prizes fall under the administration of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and prize recipients are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously in four categories which include nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama.
Margo Jefferson of the United States and Nigerian Emmanuel Iduma scooped the prizes in non-fiction, while Winsome Pinnock (United Kingdom) and Sharon Bridgforth (United States) were awarded in drama.
In poetry, Wong May (Ireland/Singapore/China) and Zaffar Kunial of the United Kingdom were announced the winners.
As a trait, the recipients of the Windham-Campbell Prizes don’t know they are being considered for the prize until they are contacted about the judges’ decision.
Reacting to the prize she won, Dangarembga said the award gave her ‘space to dream’.
“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,” she said,
“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.”
Dangarembga’s compatriot, Ndlovu, has- apart from The Theory of Flight which was published in 2018, also authored The History of Man (2020).
The Theory of Flight won Ndlovu the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.