By Ali Imran
WASHINGTON, March 9 : Pakistani writer Nadeem Aslam has won the Yale University’s prestigious 2014 Windham Campbell Literature Prize for his fiction works, which “explore historical and political trauma with lyricism and profound compassion.”
Aslam is among eight winners in the three categories – fiction, non-fiction, and drama — who will receive $150,000 each in recognition of their achievements and to support their ongoing work.
The writers didn’t know that they had been nominated, and their responses to winning the prizes ranged from shock to gratitude, the University said on its website.
Novelist Nadeem Aslam, who was born in Gujranwala in 1966 moved Britain as a teen when his father went into exile during the Zia ul Haq regime, responded lyrically to the award announcement.
“Artists are moths, chewing holes in the robes of the powerful and the unjust. My work is a private response to the world I live in, so when readers agree with what I have written I am deeply grateful because it makes me feel less alone.”
Aslam is the author of four highly-regarded works of ﬁction: The Season of the Rainbirds, Maps for Lost Lovers, The Wasted Vigil, and most recently, The Blind Man’s Garden.
“In each he explores with penetrating lyricism the many fateful encounters between Islam and the West.”
His characters are often deeply religious and conservative, disenchanted with the modern world and suspicious of the West.
“Aslam’s great gift is to render the thoughts and actions of those who are most exposed to the dislocations and disruptions of history in ways that bring forth their full humanity. The consequences of the choices his characters make feel as momentous in the world in which the novel takes place as they do in the one in which the reader lives.”
Announcing the winners, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale said this year’s recipients illustrate the global scale of the prizes, with the eight winning writers hailing from seven countries.
The 2014 prizewinners are: in fiction, Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone), Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan), and Jim Crace (United Kingdom); in non-fiction, Pankaj Mishra (India) and John Vaillant (United States/Canada); and in drama, Kia Corthron (United States), Sam Holcroft (United Kingdom) and Noëlle Janaczewska (Australia).
All eight writers will accept the prize in person at a ceremony at Yale on Sept. 15, 2014. The ceremony will be followed by a three-day literary festival celebrating the work of the prize recipients.
“I can’t think of a more appropriate setting to announce the winners of a global literary prize than here at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library,” said Yale President Peter Salovey, who announced the winners. “It is one of the great monuments to human intellectual achievement in the world, and I feel certain our prizewinners will one day add their inscriptions to it.”