[The JRB Daily] ‘Holy ****! Is this real?’ Winners of R3m Windham–Campbell Prizes for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama announced

The eight winners of the 2023 Windham–Campbell Prizes have been announced.

Now in its eleventh year, the Windham–Campbell Prize is one of the world’s richest literary awards. The prizes honour English language writers from anywhere in the world for their ‘literary achievement or promise’. Each winner will receive a grant of $175,000 (about R3.1 million) to support their work.

Prize recipients are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously. Winners are not aware they are being considered for the prize until they receive a call from prize director Michael Kelleher. (Watch their reactions in the video at the end of this post.)

‘I’ve really been asking myself how I can be creatively free and create in a way that feels true,’ Jasmine Lee-Jones, winner in the Drama category, says. ‘When I got the news it just felt like an affirmation to keep going and to make work in the way it should be made, and I don’t have to compromise.’

Darran Anderson, winner in the Nonfiction category, says: ‘My initial response was “Holy ****! Is this real?” or, to put it more diplomatically, “I’m surprised, grateful, and slightly dazed at this very welcome and generous news.”’

2023 Windham–Campbell Prize winners

  • Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Poetry, United States)
  • Darran Anderson (Nonfiction, Ireland/United Kingdom)
  • dg nanouk okpik (Poetry, Iñupiaq/Inuit)
  • Dominique Morisseau (Drama, United States)
  • Jasmine Lee-Jones (Drama, United Kingdom)
  • Ling Ma (Fiction, United States)
  • Percival Everett (Fiction, United States)
  • Susan Williams (Nonfiction, United Kingdom)

The prize was established in 2011, with the first prizes presented in 2013. It is administered by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and endowed from the combined estates of writer Donald Windham and actor Sandy M Campbell, lifelong partners who were deeply involved in literary circles, and wished to establish an award ‘to highlight literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns’.

Previous African winners include Jonny Steinberg (2013, non-fiction), Zoë Wicomb (2013, fiction), Aminatta Forna (2014, fiction), Teju ColeHelon Habila and Ivan Vladislavić (all 2015, fiction), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2018, fiction), Kwame Dawes (2019, poetry), Namwali Serpell (2020, fiction) and Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Emmanuel Iduma (all 2022, fiction, fiction and nonfiction).

Watch this year’s winners receiving the news here:

Header image: Yale News

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