Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has been named recipient of the 2022 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, one of the most prestigious honors conferred by PEN America. The 84-year-old author who recently celebrated his birthday is $50,000 richer. He was selected by selected by a judges David Treuer, Laila Lalami, and Mónica de la Torre.
The award is sponsored by Dmtiri Nabokov and named in honor of his father the Russian author Vladimir Nabokov. It is annually awarded to a “living author whose body of work—either written in or translated into English—represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.” Previous winners of the prize include Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Edna O’Brien and Anne Carson.
This honor is a celebration of Ngugi’s life-long contribution to the growth of African writing and literary culture. HIs body of work has shaped the field of African literature and inspired readers the world over. His activism has brought visibility to the plight of vulnerable communities.
His most recent novel The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi was longlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize for Fiction, earning Ngugi the distinctive achievement of being the first author to earn a nomination for writing and translating the same book. The novel, described as “an exhilarating feminist tale” re-imagines the epic of the Gikuyu origin story in which “99 suitors seek the hands of the nine warrior daughters who will ultimately decide which suitors are worthy of partnership.” It was originally published in Gikuyu as Kenda Muiyuru: Rugano Rwa Gikuyu na Mumbi.
Thiong’o will receive his award, alongside other honorees, at a literary awards ceremony held at New York City’s Town Hall and hosted by American comedian Seth Meyers.
Tickets are available for purchase here. https://pen.org/event/2022-pen-america-literary-awards-ceremony/
Congratulations to Ngugi wa Thiong’o!