Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Wins PEN American Literary Award

The PEN America Literary Awards Program announced the 2022 career achievement award winners – and Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is on the list.

Ngugi Thiong’o is the first African to be awarded the honor.

PEN/Nabokov Award

PEN/Nabokov award is named in honor of Russian author Vladimir Nabokov.

The award is “conferred annually to a living author 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.

The writer’s work will evoke to some measure Nabokov’s brilliant versatility and commitment to literature as a search for the deepest truth and highest pleasure—what Nabokov called the “indescribable tingle of the spine.”

“Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a transformative figure in African literature”

The Judging panel; David Treuer, Laila Lalami, and Mónica de la Torre said in their citation for the award;

“Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a transformative figure in African literature.

For nearly sixty years, he has been committed to telling the stories of a country and a people whose political destiny was brutally interrupted by outsiders.

In novels like Weep Not Child, A Grain of Wheat, The River Between, and Wizard of the Crow he has portrayed with great honesty and sensitivity the lasting divisions that colonial rule sowed within families and cultures, the damage wrought by the dictatorships that followed independence, and the joys of finding freedom in all its forms—personal, political, and linguistic.”

The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature which is worth US$50,000.

The award will be conferred at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony, held on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 in New York City.