Margaret Atwood, the iconic Canadian author whose body of work includes The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, was announced as the winner of the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award last Monday. This award celebrates the ability of literature to promote peace and justice globally.
Atwood’s most well-known novel, the aforementioned The Handmaid’s Tale, concerns America becoming a Totalitarian Dystopia, where women’s rights are stripped away by a theocratic government, and fertile women are forced to bear children for men and their wives. The novel has become more popular over the last few years with a Hulu adaptation starring Elizabeth Moss. However, Atwood has faith that Americans can avoid this fate. She told a reporter for the Associated Press: “And if I were a betting person, which naturally I kind of am, I would bet on American orneriness and refusal to line up…So I don’t think you’re going to get people marching in lockstep easily…You could get it. but it would be hard.”
image courtesy of amazon
Sharon Rab, the founder of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, praised Atwood’s work for educating people on important topics like social justice. Speaking to the Associated Press, she said: “Margaret Atwood continues to remind us that ‘it can’t happen here’ cannot be depended upon; anything can happen anywhere given the right circumstances…her lessons are more vital than ever.”
The award comes with $10,000 (A little over 13,000 CAD). Previous winners include feminist Gloria Steinem and holocaust survivor and novelist Elie Wiesel. The ceremony, to be originally held in October, will be held in Spring 2021 due to COVID-19. Atwood will be joined by winners of the fiction and nonfiction categories, which have yet to be announced.
Irish author Edna O’Brien has a career that spans over sixty years, consisting of multiple novels, plays and poetry collections. Now, her entire body of work is being rewarded.
O’Brien has been awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature, which gives her 40,000 pounds in awards money. This prestigious award is considered a precursor to the Nobel prize in literature.
Image Via Britannica
The decision was made by a panel of judges under the chair of Mark Lawson. When deciding who should be awarded with the honor, Lawson commended O’Brien for her diverse writing portfolio:
In my five experiences of chairing the David Cohen Prize, I have found that a key consideration is the graph of the author’s work. Some writers blaze early, then fade, publishing later books far below their best. In contrast, Edna O’Brien has achieved a rare arc of brilliant consistency, her literary skill, courage, and impact as apparent in a novel published as recently as September as in her first book, which appeared 60 years ago.
The winner of the David Cohen prize is also tasked with awarding Clarissa Luard award for an emerging writer. She awarded it to Irish poet Clodagh Beresford Dunne.
Some of O’Brien’s more notable works are the recently published Girl and her memoir Country Girl, which won the Irish Non-Fiction book category at the Irish Book Awards.
Featured Image Via The Irish Times
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