Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu awarded a Windham Campbell Prize

06 April 2022 - 12:03
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Acclaimed Zimbabwean novelist Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu.
Acclaimed Zimbabwean novelist Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu.
Image: Joanne Olivier

Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu has won a Windham Campbell Prize, the prestigious literary award administered by Yale University. The announcement was made during an online event on March 29.

“Ndlovu is both a chronicler and a conjuror whose soaring imagination creates a Zimbabwean past made of anguish and hope, of glory and despair: the story of the generations born at the crossroads of a country’s history,” the judges said.

Ndlovu is the third author published by Penguin Random House SA to win this major prize, together with Zoë Wicomb (2013) and Ivan Vladislavić (2015). Instituted in 2013, the Windham Campbell Prize is a global English-language award that calls attention to literary achievement and provides writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Prize-winners receive an unrestricted grant of $165,000 (about R2.4m).

Eight prizes were awarded with two recipients in each of the following categories: Fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. The other recipient of the fiction prize is Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga.

Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean filmmaker and scholar and author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Theory of Flight (2018) and The History of Man (2020).

The Theory of Flight, which won the 2019 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, fuses a range of histories and registers into a distinctive, moving and provocative tale. A richly textured meditation on colonial history and civil war, it is also a magical realist novel and a sweeping multigenerational family saga.

In her second novel, The History of Man, Ndlovu continues to explore nationhood and personhood, charting the violently destructive effects of settler-colonialism on both. It was shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times CNA Fiction Prize. The final instalment in the trilogy, The Quality of Mercy, will be published by Penguin in September 2022.

Ndlovu said: “This is a wonderful and great honour, one I will be thankful for for the rest of my life. To be awarded the same prize as writers whose work I genuinely admire is amazing and beyond believable. What the Windham Campbell Prize continues to do for writers around the world, and for African writers in particular, is truly phenomenal.”

Release issued by Penguin Random House

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