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Arundhati Roy honoured with 2024 PEN Pinter Prize

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Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy has been awarded the 2024 PEN Pinter Prize, acknowledging her remarkable contributions to literature and her steadfast advocacy for freedom of expression. This recognition comes at a time when Roy is facing the threat of prosecution over remarks she made regarding Kashmir 14 years ago.

The PEN Pinter Prize, inaugurated in 2009 by English PEN, celebrates Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter by recognising writers who champion freedom of expression. Roy, renowned for her “unflinching and unswerving” writings, expressed her gratitude for receiving the award during such challenging times.

“I am delighted to accept the PEN Pinter Prize. I wish Harold Pinter were with us today to write about the almost incomprehensible turn the world is taking. Since he isn’t, some of us must do our utmost to try to fill his shoes,” said Roy.

Ruth Borthwick, the Chair of English PEN, emphasised Roy’s global influence: “Roy tells urgent stories of injustice with wit and beauty. While India remains a significant focus, she is truly an internationalist thinker, and her powerful voice is not to be silenced.”

Roy, best known for her Booker Prize-winning novel “The God of Small Things,” was selected by a panel of judges including Ruth Borthwick, actor and activist Khalid Abdalla, and writer and musician Roger Robinson.

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Abdalla praised Roy’s enduring commitment to justice and clarity: “Arundhati Roy is a luminous voice of freedom and justice whose words have come with fierce clarity and determination for almost 30 years now.”

Roger Robinson highlighted the relevance of Roy’s work, especially in the context of global crises: “In honouring Arundhati Roy this year, we are celebrating both the dignity of her body of work and the timeliness of her words, which arrive with the depth of her craft exactly when we need them most.”

The award ceremony, co-hosted by the British Library, will take place on 10th October. During the event, Roy will deliver an address and share the prize with a “Writer of Courage,” to be chosen from a shortlist of individuals recognised by English PEN for their bold stance in defending freedom of expression.

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