Saturday, July 18, 2009

English PEN launches PEN/Pinter Prize
English PEN today announced a major new literary prize in honour of the late Harold Pinter.

The PEN/Pinter Prize will be awarded annually to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Harold 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’.

The inaugural PEN/Pinter Prize is being judged by the President of English PEN, Lisa Appignanesi, Pinter’s widow and former President of English PEN, Antonia Fraser, playwright Tom Stoppard, broadcaster Mark Lawson and the Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner. It will be presented on 14th October at the British Library, which holds Pinter’s archives. The winner will make an acceptance speech inspired by Pinter’s life and work. The shortlist will not be published.

The winner will receive a cheque for £1,000, and a limited-edition bound copy of their speech, donated by Faber & Faber. They will also receive a further £1,000. This second part of the prize is an award to an imprisoned writer of conscience, selected by the winner in consultation with English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee.

Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize winning dramatist, screenwriter, and poet, was a Vice President of English PEN and active in the organisation’s many campaigns on behalf of imprisoned or persecuted writers who suffered at the hands of their regimes.

Antonia Fraser said: ‘I am delighted to support this prize in Harold's name, which celebrates his long association with English PEN and recognises the courage of writers, both in this country and overseas, who, like him, have made a principled stand for writers’ freedoms.’

Lisa Appignanesi said: ‘We are thrilled to launch the PEN/Pinter Prize in memory of Harold Pinter, not only himself a writer of genius, but one who was actively engaged in defending the value of the whole enterprise of literature, too often threatened by those who would silence the always unpredictable force of words and ideas.’

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