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Arundhati Roy wins PEN Pinter Prize for 'powerful voice'

By?Cherylann Mollan,?BBC News, Mumbai
Getty Images NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 10: Author-activist Arundhati Roy addresses a press conference demanding the immediate release of activist Dr GN Saibaba on March 10, 2021 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)Getty Images
Arundhati Roy is a Booker prize-winning author and an outspoken activist

Indian author Arundhati Roy has said that she is "delighted" to have been awarded this year's PEN Pinter Prize.

Set up in memory of playwright Harold Pinter, the award is for writers of "outstanding literary merit" who take an "unflinching" look at the world.

The announcement comes weeks after officials in India approved action against Roy under anti-terror laws for comments she made 14 years ago.

Roy is a Booker Prize-winning author and has written about human rights issues in India as well as war and capitalism globally.

English PEN chair Ruth Borthwick praised Roy for telling "urgent stories of injustice with wit and beauty".

"While India remains an important focus, she is truly an internationalist thinker, and her powerful voice is not to be silenced," Borthwick said.

Roy, 62, is an outspoken writer and activist and could face prosecution by the Narendra Modi government for comments she made in 2010 about Kashmir - a controversial topic in India.

She is a polarising figure and has often been targeted by right-wing groups for her speeches and writings.

Roy has been outspoken in her criticism about the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government's alleged targeting of Muslims and has also spoken about India's declining press freedoms during Mr Modi's tenure.

She will receive the PEN Pinter Prize on 10 October in a ceremony co-hosted by the British Library.

The prize was set up in 2009 by English PEN, a charity that says it defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature.

Previous winners include Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard and Carol Ann Duffy.

On winning the prize, Roy said: "I wish Harold Pinter were with us today to write about the almost incomprehensible turn the world is taking. Since he isn't, some of us must do our utmost to try to fill his shoes."

Roy has written numerous books and non-fiction essays, but she is best known for her novel, The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997.


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