Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy awarded PEN Pinter Prize

Arundhati Roy has been awarded the PEN Pinter prize, mere weeks after Indian authorities sanctioned her prosecution for comments she made about Kashmir 14 years ago, per The PEN Pinter prize is bestowed annually to a writer who embodies the spirit of late playwright Harold Pinter, with an “unflinching, unswerving” perspective on the world and a “fierce intellectual determination… to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.”

The Indian author, lauded for her incisive commentary on environmental and human rights issues, won the Booker Prize in 1997 for “The God of Small Things.” On June 14, Delhi’s top official approved her prosecution under stringent anti-terror laws for a 2010 remark asserting that Kashmir was never an “integral” part of India. This decision has sparked significant backlash, with over 200 Indian academics, activists, and journalists signing an open letter urging the government to retract the prosecution.

Roy, a prominent critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, has faced increasing scrutiny. Salil Tripathi, a PEN International board member, highlighted the symbolism of prosecuting a high-profile figure like Roy, suggesting it serves as a warning to other critics.

Roy will receive the PEN Pinter prize at a ceremony in October at the British Library. Reflecting on the honour, she expressed a desire for Harold Pinter’s perspective on current global events, stating, “Since he isn’t, some of us must do our utmost to try to fill his shoes.” 

Selected by a judging panel, Roy joins past laureates such as Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, continuing her legacy as a “luminous voice of freedom and justice.”

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