Ngugi bags top award

Ngugi bags top award

Acclaimed Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o (pictured) has been honoured with the prestigious PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

The ‘Birth of a Dream Weaver’ author was named the 2022 PEN/Nabokov Award recipient ahead of the award ceremony slated for February 28 in New York City, becoming the first African to be awarded the honour.

In honouring him with the award, the PEN America judging panel hailed the writer’s works as “greatly honest and sensitive”, describing him as a transformative figure in African literature.

​​His refusal to be silenced and his insistence on the value of indigenous languages has inspired a generation of younger writers, said the judges.

“His analysis of language and power in Decolonizing the Mind continues to provoke spirited debate many decades later.”

Ngugi will be feted alongside American comedian and screenwriter Elaine May who will be conferred with the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award, as well as playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury, the 2022 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award winner.

The award comes with a Ksh.5.6 million ($50,000) prize.

Founded in 2016 to honour the legacy of Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, the annual award recognises living authors “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.”

Ngugi’s works span over five decades and range from novels, plays, memoirs, short stories and essays.

The 84-year-old is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California in Irvine, USA and holds over ten honorary doctorate degrees from, among others, Yale University, University of Leeds, New York University and University of Dar es Salaam.

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