Rushdie awarded 2014 PEN/ Pinter Prize

Rushdie awarded 2014 PEN/ Pinter Prize

Salman Rushdie has been awarded the 2014 PEN/Pinter Prize.
 
The award will be presented at a public event at the British Library on Thursday 9th October, at which Rushdie will deliver an address.
 
The PEN/Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by English PEN in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter. It is awarded annually to a British writer or writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit, who, in the words of Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature 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’’.
 
Rushdie was chosen by this year’s judges: Michael Billington; Pinter’s widow, Antonia Fraser; Simon Jenkins; Kamila Shamsie; and president of English PEN and chair of judges, Maureen Freely.
 
Freely said: “This prize is English PEN’s way of thanking Salman Rushdie not just for his books and his many years of speaking out for freedom of expression, but also for his countless private acts of kindness.  When he sees writers unjustly vilified, prosecuted, or forced into exile, he takes a personal interest. I think he would be the first to say that it was Harold Pinter who set the example in this regard: the engaged writer never sleeps.”
 
Rushdie commented on the honour: “It's very moving to receive an award named after my friend Harold Pinter, whose literary genius was matched by his passion for social justice, and to follow in the distinguished footsteps of the previous recipients, Tony Harrison, Hanif Kureishi, David Hare, Carol Ann Duffy and Tom Stoppard.”

He added: “I first met Harold and Antonia through English PEN, and of course they, and PEN, were later active in my defence when I needed it. The work of PEN, both in promoting the best of world literature and in opposing abuses of freedom, continues to be vitally important, and I'm proud to have been a part of that effort in England as well as the United States.”  

Fraser said that Pinter “admired Salman Rushdie's work profoundly long before he met him”. She continued: “When we did all meet, a friendship grew up which was very important to Harold; he was honoured to deliver Salman's own lecture at the Institute of Contemporary Arts shortly after the fatwa. This award would have meant a great deal to Harold who respected Salman twice over, both for his work and his great personal courage.”
                                                                                                                               
Rushdie’s prize will be shared with an International Writer of Courage who has been intimidated for speaking out about their beliefs, selected by him in association with English PEN’s Writers at Risk Committee. The co-winner will be announced at the event in October, where they will accept their prize alongside Rushdie.