Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu has won a Windham Campbell Prize, the prestigious literary award administered by Yale University. The announcement was made during an online event on 29 March. ‘Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu is both a chronicler and a conjurer whose soaring imagination creates a Zimbabwean past made of anguish and hope, of glory and despair: the story of the generations born at the crossroads of a country’s history,’ the judges said.

Ndlovu is the third author published by Penguin Random House South Africa to win this major prize, together with Zoë Wicomb (2013) and Ivan Vladislavić (2015). Instituted in 2013, the Windham Campbell Prize is a global English-language award that calls attention to literary achievement and provides writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Prize-winners receive an unrestricted grant of $165,000. Eight prizes were awarded, with two recipients in each of the following categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama. The other recipient of the Fiction prize is Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga.

Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean filmmaker and scholar, as well as the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The History of Man (2020) and The Theory of Flight(2018). The Theory of Flight, which won the 2019 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, fuses a range of histories and registers into a distinctive, moving and provocative tale. A richly textured meditation on colonial history and civil war, The Theory of Flight is also a magical realist novel and a sweeping multi-generational family saga.

In her second novel, The History of Man, Ndlovu continues to explore nationhood and personhood, charting the violently destructive effects of settler-colonialism on both. It was shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times Fiction Prize. The final instalment in the trilogy, The Quality of Mercy, will be published by Penguin in September 2022.

Says Ndlovu, ‘This is such a wonderful and great honour, one I will be thankful for the rest of my life. To be awarded the same prize as writers whose work I genuinely admire is just so amazing and beyond believable. What the Windham Campbell Prize continues to do for writers around the world, and for African writers in particular, is truly phenomenal.’

Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, as well as master’s degrees in African Studies and Film from Ohio University. She has published research on Saartjie Baartman, and she wrote, directed, and edited the award-winning short film Graffiti. She is a recipient of a 2018 Morland Writing Scholarship and a 2020 Writing Fellowship at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS).

ISBNS:The Theory of Flight: 978-1-4152-0942-4 The History of Man: 978-1-4859-0421-2
Author photograph by Joanne Olivier

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