On September 23, 2020, Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best sci-fi novel of the year.
Serpell is set to receive £2020 for her marvelous work of science fiction, but shortly after her win, she announced on Twitter that she will be donating the prize money.
I won the @ClarkeAward within an hour of hearing that the cops who killed Breonna Taylor weren't charged. To honor Breonna and the ongoing fight against state-sanctioned violence, I'm donating the £2020 prize money to bail funds for protestors. Join me: https://t.co/mRGmN4Pop3
— Namwali Serpell (@namwalien) September 25, 2020ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
This is not the first time Namwali Serpell has donated her winnings from literary awards. In 2015, Serpell split the $15,600 Caine Prize with her fellow shortlisted writers, explaining that she wished to “change the structure of the prize” into one in which writers do not compete against each other but support each other.
In a similar vein of solidarity, Serpell is donating the entirety of her Arthur C. Clarke Award money to bail funds for protestors demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.
Serpell explains in an interview with BBC:
I’ve been trying to figure out how to acknowledge both the honor that this award grants to my novel and the feeling that the political revolution I’m describing in the novel is yet to come…My novel is not exactly prophetic. It is just resonant with the questions and issues that have been with me as part of the culture that has formed me. And that culture, I want to say, is one where science fiction is a force that lets us probe real urgent political questions about equality and power and justice.
Namwali Serpell’s decision to redistribute literary prize winnings focuses on advancing societal and cultural conversations that resonate with her identity and development as a writer.
Read more about Serpell’s decision on Twitter:
I explain more about why I decided to donate my @ClarkeAward money to bail funds for protestors against Breonna Taylor's state-sanctioned murder in this BBC radio interview. The messy thread below offers some more context for those who are interested. 1/ https://t.co/WG355QgjOS
— Namwali Serpell (@namwalien) September 25, 2020