The Windham-Campbell Prizes have named the recipients of its tenth edition and we are beyond proud to see that nearly half of the honorees are African. They are the Zimbabwean authors Tsitsi Dangaremgba & Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, awarded in the category of fiction, and Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma in the category of nonfiction.
This is the second time in the award’s history that three of its recipients are Africans, the first being 2015 when Nigerian authors Teju Cole and Helon Habila and South Africa’s Ivan Vladislavic were recipients. Since the prize’s founding in 2013, every year has featured an African winner, with the exception of 2016, 2017 and 2021.
The prize is funded through donations made by Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell. In each award season, a total of 1,320,000 US dollars is disbursed, with each author receiving $165,000. There are eight authors in all. The others are the American Pulitzer Prize-winning author Margo Jefferson, awarded alongside Iduma for nonfiction; the American dramatist Sharon Bridgforth and British playwright Winsome Pinnock, for drama; and the British poet Zaffar Kunial & Irish-Singaporean-Chinese poet Wong May, for poetry.
One of the world’s richest literary honors in the world, the Windham-Campbell Prizes are annually awarded to distinguished writers to “support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.” The award is conferred across categories of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry.
Learn more about the three African honorees:
Dangaremgba’s body of work include the three critically-acclaimed works of fiction: This Mournable Body (2018), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Book of Not (2006), and Nervous Conditions (1998). A filmmaker and prominent rights activist, she is the recipient of multiple accolades for her literary and social achievements including the PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression (2021) and the 2021 Pen Pinter Prize.
Regarding her win, Dangaremgba said:
I have been waiting for this all my life, not always believing but constantly hoping. This award gives me space to dream.
Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu is the author of the novels The Theory of Flight (2018), which won the 2019 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize; and The History of Man (2020). She holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, as well as master’s degrees in African Studies and Film from Ohio University. She is a recipient of a 2018 Morland Writing Scholarship and of a 2020 Writing Fellowship at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS).
You have changed my life! One day, I will have words to speak of this, but for now all I have are thanks.
Emmanuel Iduma is the author of the novel The Sound of Things to Come (2016) and the nonfiction work A Stranger’s Pose (2018). Also a poet and photographer, he is the co-founder of Saraba, non-profit literary magazine dedicated to publishing emerging writers in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. His essays and art criticism have been published in Granta, the New York Review of Books, Aperture, n+1, and Artforum.
It was a stunner, and still is, to be informed of the award of a prize of such magnitude and pre-eminence, to be listed alongside many writers I look up to. I am filled with gratitude to the Beinecke Library and remain keen with hope for the paths now made possible for me to tread.
In a press statement, Mike Kelleher, Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, celebrates the longevity of the prize, as it marks its 10th anniversary
Across ten extraordinary years, the Windham-Campbell Prizes have celebrated exceptional literary achievement and nurtured great talent by giving the precious gifts of time, space and creative freedom. We are proud to mark our 10th anniversary with the most exciting list of recipients yet. Led by a trailblazing group of global women’s voices, these writers’ ambitious, skillful, and moving work bridges the distance between the history of nations and a deeply personal sense of self.
Previous winners from the continent include the Zambian author Namwali Serpell in 2020, in fiction; the Ghanaian-Jamaican American poet Kwame Dawes in 2019, in poetry; the Ugandan novelist Jennifer Makumbi in 2018, in fiction; the Nigerians Teju Cole and Helon Habila and the South African Ivan Vladislavic, all in fiction, in 2015; the Sierra Leonean-Scottish Aminatta Forna, in fiction, in 2014; and the South Africans Zoe Wicomb, in fiction, and Johnny Steinberg, in nonfiction, in 2013.
Congratulations to the awardees.