The Royal Society of Literature has announced the writers honoured by their International Writers Programme; Tsitsi Dangarembga, Anne Carson and Mary Gaitskill were named among the dozen writers recognised across the globe.
This is the second year of the programme which aims to celebrate the power of literature to transcend borders and bring people together. The programme was announced in 2020 as part of RSL 200, a five-year festival with many major new initiatives and sixty new appointments which champion the diversity of writing and writers in the UK.
The Royal Society of Literature itself was founded in 1820 and is a UK charity that advocates for the advancement of literature. They act as a voice for the value of literature, draw people into appreciating literature, as well as helping and honouring writers.
Readers and writers were asked to submit writers outside of the UK for nomination, which were then reviewed by a panel chaired by Daniel Hahn OBE, British writer, editor and translator, before being put forward as a list to the RSL Council. This year’s panel consisted of fellows and honorary fellows: Maureen Freely, Shermilla Beezmohun, Mojisola Adebayo, Nick Barley, Nadifa Mohamed, Daljit Nagra, Nell Leyshon and Katherine Rundell.
The writers honoured this year were Maryse Condé, Cornelia Funke, Faïza Guène, Saidiya Hartman, Kim Hyesoon, Yōko Ogawa, Raja Shehadeh, Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Samar Yazbek, alongside Mary Gaitskill, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Anne Carson.
Early this year Dangarembga, author of This Mournable Body was convicted by Zimbabwean authorities for promoting public violence after she attended a peaceful anti-government demonstration. Dangarembga said: “By sharing each other’s experiences through literature we are given the opportunity to understand that most of our concerns as human beings are similar even though they play out differently in different environments.”
They join the list of honorary writers from 2021: including Don Mee Choi, Annie Ernaux, David Grossman, Jamaica Kincaid, Yan Lianke, Amin Maalouf, Alain Mabanckou, Javier Marías, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Claudia Rankine, Olga Tokarczuk and Dubravka Ugrešić.
Submissions for 2023 are now open and the programme will no doubt have a substantial impact on promoting reading that transcends borders and brings people together.
Words by Georgia McInnes
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