Arundhati Roy awarded PEN Pinter Prize 2024

Jun 28, 2024

We are delighted that author Arundhati Roy has been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2024. She will receive the award in a ceremony co-hosted by the British Library on 10 October 2024, where she will deliver an address.


The prize will be shared with a Writer of Courage: a writer who is active in defence of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty. The co-winner, selected by Arundhati Roy from a shortlist of cases supported by English PEN, will be announced at the event on 10 October 2024.


Arundhati Roy was chosen as the 2024 PEN Pinter Prize winner in April 2024 by this year’s judges: Chair of English PEN, Ruth Borthwick; actor and activist Khalid Abdalla; and writer and musician Roger Robinson.


Ruth Borthwick said: ‘Our congratulations to Arundhati Roy on winning the PEN Pinter Prize 2024. Roy tells 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.’


Khalid Abdalla commented: ‘Arundhati Roy is a luminous voice of freedom and justice whose words have come with fierce clarity and determination for almost thirty years now. Her books, her writings, the spirit with which her life is lived, have been a lodestar through the many crises and the darkness our world has faced since her first book, The God of Small Things. This year, as the world faces the deep histories that have created this moment in Gaza, our need for writers who are “unflinching and unswerving” has been immense. In honouring Arundhati Roy this year, we are celebrating both the dignity of her body of work and the timeliness of her words, that arrive with the depth of her craft exactly when we need them most.’


Roger Robinson added: ‘Arundhati Roy was the unanimous choice for this prestigious award, a testament to her unparalleled contribution to literature. Her vast body of work, encompassing both fiction and non-fiction, has not only captivated readers worldwide but also consistently focused on themes of social justice. Roy’s incisive commentary on issues ranging from environmental degradation to human rights abuses demonstrates her commitment to advocating for the marginalized and challenging the status quo. Her unique voice and unwavering dedication to these causes make her a deserving recipient of this honour.’

Arundhati Roy said: ‘I am delighted to accept the PEN Pinter prize. 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.’


The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of Nobel-Laureate playwright Harold Pinter. The prize is awarded annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’.


Former winners of the PEN Pinter Prize are Michael Rosen (2023), Malorie Blackman (2022), Tsitsi Dangarembga (2021), Linton Kwesi Johnson (2020), Lemn Sissay (2019), Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (2018), Michael Longley (2017), Margaret Atwood (2016), James Fenton (2015), Salman Rushdie (2014), Tom Stoppard (2013), Carol Ann Duffy (2012), David Hare (2011), Hanif Kureishi (2010) and Tony Harrison (2009). Former winners of the PEN Pinter Prize Writer of Courage are Rahile Dawut (2023), Kakwenza Rukirabashaija (2021), Amanuel Asrat (2020), Befeqadu Hailu (2019), Waleed Abulkhair (2018), Mahvash Sabet (2017), Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury a.k.a.Tutul (2016), Raif Badawi (2015), Mazen Darwish (2014), Iryna Khalip (2013), Samar Yazbek (2012), Roberto Saviano (2011), Lydia Cacho (2010) and Zarganar (Maung Thura) (2009).