Malorie Blackman was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2022 by the English PEN on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
The PEN Pinter Prize is awarded annually to a writer from Britain, the Republic of Ireland, or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize-winning 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’. Some of those who have won it since 2009 have been Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lemn Sissay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Sir Salman Rushdie, and Hanif Kureishi.
The judging panel for the 2022 prize comprised Chair of English PEN, Ruth Borthwick; publisher, editor, writer, and broadcaster Margaret Busby; and writer, editor, and translator Daniel Hahn. They have this year awarded the prize to children’s and YA writer Malorie Blackman; this makes her the first in her genre to receive it.
Ruth Borthwick said: ‘This is the first time the PEN Pinter Prize has been awarded to a writer for young people so you’d expect them to be exceptional. Malorie Blackman has transformed the world of writing for young adults. Her work never talks down, and her readers have responded by taking her to their hearts. Malorie has created dynamic imaginary worlds in which her protagonists are living with and challenging issues of injustice in a way that is totally engaging as she is above all a wonderful storyteller.’
Malorie Blackman said: ‘I am truly honoured and more than a little stunned to be the recipient of the 2022 PEN Pinter Prize. I have long admired Harold Pinter for his courage and dedication to human rights and social justice and have always believed in the power of the creative arts to connect and communicate with others. I especially believe in the power of fiction to shine a spotlight on the truth and feel truly blessed that I predominantly write for the most discerning, honest audience – young adults and children. Thank you English PEN for considering me a worthy recipient of this award.’
The prize will be shared with an International Writer of Courage: a writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty. The co-winner, selected by Malorie Blackman from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN, will be announced at the event on October 10.