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Novelist Nadeem Aslam wins Yale prize

March 10, 2014

WASHINGTON: Pakistani writer Nadeem Aslam has won the Yale University’s prestigious Windham Campbell Literature Prize 2014 for his fiction works which “explore historical and political trauma with lyricism and profound compassion”.

Mr Aslam is among the eight winners in 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.

Mr Aslam who was born in Gujranwala in 1966 and moved to Britain as a teenager when his father went into exile during the Ziaul 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.”

Mr 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.

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 award winners, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale said this year’s recipients illustrated the global scale of the prizes, with the eight winning writers hailing from seven countries.

The winners 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 (US), Sam Holcroft (UK) and Nolle Janaczewska (Australia).—APP