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Cole, Habila, others win The Windham Campell Prize

By EDITOR 26 February 2015   |   11:00 pm

THE Windham Campbell Prizes was announced this week its third round of prize-winners, which are chosen confidentially in three categories – fiction, nonfiction, and drama – to honour and support writers anywhere in the world writing in English. The awards, which come with a $150,000 check, can be given for a body of work or extraordinary promise. The 2015 winners are, in fiction: Teju Cole, Helon Habila, and Ivan Vladislavić; in non-fiction: Edmund de Waal, Geoff Dyer, and John Jeremiah Sullivan; and, in drama: Jackie Sibblies Drury, Helen Edmundson, and Debbie Tucker Green.

  The Windham Campbell Prizes were established by Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. The prizes made their debut in 2013. There is no submission process and winners are determined by a global group of invited nominators, a jury in each category, and a selection committee.

  In September, the winners will gather from around the world at Yale (where the prizes are based), for an international literary festival celebrating their work. All events are free and open to the public.

  “The Windham Campbell Prizes were created by a writer to support other writers”, said Michael Kelleher, director of the programme. “Donald Windham recognized that the most significant gift he could give to another writer was time to write. In addition to the recognition prestige it confers, the prize gives them just that – with no strings attached.”

  Teju Cole is the author of two works of fiction that radically expand our understanding of diaspora and dislocation in the twenty-first century. Cole was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents, raised in Lagos, and currently resides in New York City, which serves as both setting and subject of Open City (2011). The novel, which documents the roaming thoughts and encounters of a Nigerian-German psychiatrist, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and earned Cole a PEN/Hemingway Award, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and frequent comparisons to W.G. Sebald.

  In Every Day Is for the Thief, published in 2007 in Nigeria and in 2014 in the U.S., a dual American and Nigerian citizen travels from his home in New York to Lagos and finds himself a stranger.  

  Helon Habila is the author of three novels. He was Arts Editor of Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper when his short story “Love Poems” won the 2001 Caine Prize, garnering him international attention as one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary fiction. The story was excerpted from his first novel, Waiting for an Angel (2002), itself about a Nigerian journalist’s literary ambitions threatened by a repressive military regime.  Waiting was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Region).

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