Ivan Vladislavić has won the Windham Campbell Prize. The prizewinners were announced on the 24th February in three categories –– fiction, nonfiction, and drama –– to honor and support writers anywhere in the world writing in English. The awards, which come with a $150,000 cheque, can be given for a body of work or extraordinary promise.
In addition to Ivan Vladislavić, the 2015 winners are, in fiction: Teju Cole and Helon Habila, making it a clean sweep for African writers. In nonfiction the winners were 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, which debuted in 2013, 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. 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 program. “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."
Ivan was on BBC Radio 4 last month, talking about his classic non-fiction book PORTRAIT WITH KEYS for the series Writing a New South Africa for the episode ‘Johannesburg, City of Recent Arrivals’.
Ivan Vladislavić is a writer of fiction and non-fiction celebrated in his native South Africa for seeing history in the quotidian and juxtaposing the banal and the bizarre. His debut story collection MISSING PERSONS (1989) mined the dark absurdity of daily life under apartheid and was awarded the Olive Schreiner Prize. MISSING PERSONS was republished in 2010 alongside his second collection PROPAGANDA BY MONUMENTS (1996) as the single volume FLASHBACK HOTEL. These writings, along with his editorial work at Staffrider Magazine and Ravan Press, made Vladislavić a key figure of literary resistance to “the demented, divided space of apartheid.” In DOUBLE NEGATIVE (2010), Vladislavić’s protagonist wonders, “How much past can the present bear?” His post-apartheid novels have continued to explore the texture and tensions of the new South Africa with his signature humor and insight. Vladislavić has twice won the University of Johannesburg Prize, first for his nonfiction book PORTRAIT WITH KEYS: The City of Johan-nesburg Unlocked (2006) and again for DOUBLE NEGATIVE. His novel THE RESTLESS SUPERMARKET (2001) was awarded the Sunday Times Prize for Fiction. His other works include THE EXPLODED VIEW, THE LOSS LIBRARY and A LABOUR OF MOLES. He was recently appointed a Distinguished Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. His new short story collection, 101 DETECTIVES, will be published in 2015 by Umuzi, in South Africa and in the UK by And Other Stories. Archipelago and And Other Stories will publish his novella, THE FOLLY, in the US and the UK respectively.
Past winners include novelists James Salter, Tom McCarthy, and Jim Crace; nonﬁction writers Jeremy Scahill, Pankaj Mishra, and Adina Hoﬀman; and playwrights Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Naomi Wallace. A full list of prize winners is available on the Windham Campbell website.