Arundhati Roy Wins PEN Pinter Prize 2024 for a ‘Writer of Courage’

New Delhi, June 29, dmanewsdesk: Author Arundhati Roy has been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2024, which goes to a “Writer of Courage: a writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty”.

While the announcement states that the jury selected Roy as the winner in April this year, the award comes at a time when Roy is under increased threat from the Indian State. Earlier this month, Delhi LG Vinai Kumar Saxena granted sanction to prosecute Roy under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, an anti-terror law that makes it difficult for accused persons to secure bail, in a case pertaining to statement she had made in 2010.

Chair of English PEN Ruth Borthwick, who was on the jury, said that “Roy tells urgent stories of injustice with wit and beauty. While India remains an important focus, she is truly an internationalist thinker, and her powerful voice is not to be silenced.”

Another judge, actor and activist Khalid Abdalla, said, “Arundhati Roy is a luminous voice of freedom and justice whose words have come with fierce clarity and determination for almost thirty years now. Her books, her writings, the spirit with which her life is lived, have been a lodestar through the many crises and the darkness our world has faced since her first book, The God of Small Things. This year, as the world faces the deep histories that have created this moment in Gaza, our need for writers who are “unflinching and unswerving” has been immense. In honouring Arundhati Roy this year, we are celebrating both the dignity of her body of work and the timeliness of her words, that arrive with the depth of her craft exactly when we need them most.”

The third jury member was writer and musician Roger Robinson, who added, “Arundhati Roy was the unanimous choice for this prestigious award, a testament to her unparalleled contribution to literature. Her vast body of work, encompassing both fiction and non-fiction, has not only captivated readers worldwide but also consistently focused on themes of social justice. Roy’s incisive commentary on issues ranging from environmental degradation to human rights abuses demonstrates her commitment to advocating for the marginalized and challenging the status quo. Her unique voice and unwavering dedication to these causes make her a deserving recipient of this honour.”

The award is named after Harold Pinter, the British playwright, screenwriter and Nobel prize winner. Roy, while accepting the prize, said, “I am delighted to accept the PEN Pinter prize. I wish Harold Pinter were with us today to write about the almost incomprehensible turn the world is taking. Since he isn’t, some of us must do our utmost to try to fill his shoes.”

The recent grant of sanction to persecute Roy – and her co-accused former professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain – under the UAPA has been criticised both within India and abroad.

Source: The Wire