Tsitsi Dangarembga, Zimbabwean novelist, playwright, and filmmaker, author of Nervous Conditions (named by the BBC in 2018 as one of the top 100 books that have shaped the world), The Book of Not, and This Mournable Body (books 2 and 3 in the Nervous Conditions series) was awarded the PEN Pinter prize, being praised for her “ability to capture and communicate vital truths even amidst times of upheaval”.
The PEN Pinter Prize is an award is given to “a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Pinter’s Nobel speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows ‘a fierce, intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.'”
Nervous Conditions is set in Zimbabwe, two decades before they would win independence and end white minority rule. The book follows Tambudzai “Tambu” Sigauke, a young girl who embarks on a journey to obtain an education while dealing with the economic hopes of her parents, siblings, and extended family, and her own desire for independence. But when she moves with her wealthy uncle to attend a mission school, she learns that this education comes with a price.
Dangarembga said, “I am grateful that my casting – in the words of Harold Pinter – an ‘unflinching, unswerving gaze’ upon my country and its society has resonated with many people across the globe and this year with the jury of the PEN Pinter Prize. I believe that the positive reception of literary works like mine helps to prove that we can unite around that which is positively human.”