Boris Boubacar Diop was revealed to be the winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature 2022 on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a biennial award sponsored by the United States’ University of Oklahoma and its international literary publication, World Literature Today. The prize for adult literature, worth $50,000, is awarded to a living writer anywhere in any genre. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Dallas, Denver and Watertown, Massachusetts, ensures the award in perpetuity. First given in 1970 to Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, it has been won by Nuruddin Farah (1998), Mia Couto (2014), and Edwige Danticat (2018). Aminatta Forna and Abdellatif Laâbi have been finalists.
The jury for this year featured Jennifer Croft, Tarfia Faizullah, Hamid Ismailov, Fowzia Karimi, Eleni Kefala, R. O. Kwon, Carlos Labbé, Carlos Pintado, Matthew Shenoda, and Olga Zilberbourg. The panel revealed the shortlist for the 2022 edition of the prize which included two writers of African descent.
The winner announced is Boris Boubacar Diop (Senegal) for Murambi: The Book of Bones. Diop is the author of many novels, plays and essays. He was awarded the Senegalese Republic Grand Prize in 1990 for Les Tambours de la mémoire as well as the Prix Tropiques for The Knight and His Shadow. His Doomi Golo was the first novel to be translated from Wolof into English. Toni Morrison called his novel Murambi: The Book of Bones “a miracle,” and the Zimbabwe International Book Fair listed it as one of the 100 best African books of the 20th century.
Robert Con Davis-Undiano, World Literature Today’s executive director, noted that “it is a high honor that a senior African writer of Mr. Diop’s stature has won the Neustadt Prize. This is a landmark for the prize and for Mr. Diop’s growing and much-deserved renown in the West.”
The winner announcement was made at the Neustadt Lit Fest, which this year also honoured Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee), laureate of the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.
Apart from the $50,000 cash prize, Diop receives a silver replica of an eagle feather, a prize certificate and a festival hosted in his honor.