Trailblazing young playwright JASMINE LEE JONES and TONY nominated DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU win prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama
“With all going on in the world, it is beyond joyous to learn that my work and voice matters and I’m being encouraged to continue on! As an artist, the ability to continue to make a living telling stories is vital to my growth and mission in life, and awards like these help to make a pathway for my creativity and passion to thrive. It’s thrilling and inspiring!” Dominique Morisseau
Yale University, New Haven, Tuesday 4 April 2023: Today, the Windham-Campbell Prizes have announced this year’s recipients of a $175,000 award to support their work. Celebrating both literary legends and emerging talent, the list includes the critically acclaimed novelist Percival Everett, TONY nominated writer Dominique Morisseau, Iñupiaq-Inuit poet dg nanouk okpik, and trailblazing playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones – the youngest ever recipient of a Windham-Campbell Prize.
This major global prize recognises eight writers each year for literary achievement across four categories – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. With annual prize money exceeding $1.4m USD – and total prize money awarded over the past decade at almost $16m USD – they are one of the most significant prizes in the world. Each recipient is gifted an unrestricted grant to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns rewarding each with $175,000, marking a $10,000 increase from previous years.
The Windham-Campbell Prizes 2023 recipients are:
– Percival Everett (United States) – fiction
– Ling Ma (United States) – fiction
– Susan Williams (United Kingdom) –nonfiction
– Darran Anderson (Ireland/United Kingdom) – nonfiction
– Dominique Morisseau (United States) –drama
– Jasmine Lee-Jones (United Kingdom) – drama
– Alexis Pauline Gumbs (United States) –poetry
– dg nanouk okpik (Iñupiaq-Inuit) – poetry
Michael Kelleher, Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, said: “Reading this year’s recipients excited me because each one taught me new ways of seeing the past, the present, and the future. I can’t wait to see what each of them does next!”
For Fiction, the Prize has rewarded the prolific and multi-award-winning US writer Percival Everett, lauded for over thirty works of fiction and poetry filled with sharp observations about aesthetics, gender, politics, race, and sexuality – most recently the Booker nominated satirical horror, The Trees (2022). American novelist Ling Ma – who has been praised for staking out new and original ground in her debut novel Severance (2018) and subsequent short story collection Bliss Montage (2022) – has also been selected to receive a Windham-Campbell Prize.
The Windham-Campbell Prize 2023 selection committee – which remains anonymous – has given the following citations for Percival Everett and Ling Ma:
“In its mordant humor and philosophical skepticism, Percival Everett’s virtuosic body of work exemplifies fiction’s capacity for play, vigilance, and compassion for life’s precarity in an uncertain world.”
“Ling Ma meditates on urban anomie with wry humor and subversive imagination, brilliantly bending and blending genre to plumb the depths of her characters’ origins, displacement, and alienation.”
In Nonfiction, this year’s recipients hail from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Historian and writer Susan Williams, based in London, is celebrated for her academic analysis, archival research, and historical insight – combining to create powerful narratives exploring swaths of the past that have been concealed or neglected. Irish essayist, journalist, and memoirist Darran Anderson is recognised for his writing at the intersections of culture, politics, urbanism, and technology, including his dazzling debut Imaginary Cities: A Tour of Dream Cities, Nightmare Cities, and Everywhere in Between (2015), a hugely ambitious omnivorous analysis of real and imagined cities throughout history.
The Windham-Campbell Prize 2023 selection committee citations for Susan Williams and Darran Anderson are:
“Susan Williams chronicles imperial legacies with a forensic eye, a historical mind, and a decolonial sensibility for African agency; her findings are as stunning as they are transformative.”
“With divinatory attention, Darran Anderson gives voice to the testimony of objects and geographies, chronicling the passage of individual memory as it turns into a community’s archive and sustaining myth.”
For Drama, a Windham-Campbell Prize has been awarded to Detroit’s TONY nominated Dominique Morisseau, whose much-acclaimed body of work includes plays The Detroit Project, Pipeline, Sunset Baby, Blood at the Root and Follow Me To Nellie’s, the Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, and Showtime seriesShameless. Alongside Morisseau, London’s trailblazing playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones – the youngest ever recipient of a Windham-Campbell Prize, aged 24 – who exploded on the global theatre scene in 2019 with her debut play, seven methods of killing kylie jenner, is rewarded for her powerfully original storytelling and voice on contemporary culture.
The Windham-Campbell Prize 2023 selection committee citations for Dominique Morisseau andJasmine Lee-Jones are:
“The nuanced characters and trenchant stories in Dominique Morisseau’s plays strike at the heart of the most pressing conversations facing African Americans today, embodying a steadfast belief in the transformative power of love and art.”
“Fierce, fresh, and funny, Jasmine Lee-Jones’s iconoclastic plays reinvigorate the vernacular of contemporary theater for a new generation.”
In Poetry, the self-described “Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist” –Alexis Pauline Gumbs – is recognised with a Windham-Campbell Prize. An award-winning US activist, critic, poet, scholar and educator, Gumbs’ hybrid prose-poetry is grounded in a community building ethic and re-envisions old narratives to engage with the history of Black intellectual-imaginative work. dg nanouk okpik is the first Iñupiaq-Inuit writer to receive a Windham-Campbell Prize, for her astonishing achievement – including an American Book Award winning debut Corpse Whale (2012) and recent collection Blood Snow (2022) – and great promise.
The Windham-Campbell Prize 2023 selection committee citations for Alexis Pauline Gumbs and dg nanouk okpik are:
“The luminous, visionary poetry of Alexis Pauline Gumbs emerges from urgent realities of the present and haunting voices of the past to imagine alternative worlds shaped by radical listening, compassion, and love.”
“dg nanouk okpik’s lapidary poems sound the depths of language and landscape, shuttling between the ancient past and imperilled present of Inuit Alaska in a searching meditation on ecology and time.”
Previous UK recipients include Winsome Pinnock(Drama, 2022), Zaffar Kunial (Poetry, 2022) Kate Briggs (Nonfiction, 2021) Bhanu Kapil (Poetry, 2020), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Fiction, 2018), Sarah Bakewell (Nonfiction, 2018), Edmund de Waal (Nonfiction, 2015), Nadeem Aslam (Fiction, United Kingdom/Pakistan 2014) and Tom McCarthy (Fiction, 2013) with further international recipients including Tsitsi Dangarembga (Fiction, Zimbabwe, 2022), Vivian Gornick (Nonfiction, United States, 2021), Raghu Karnad (Nonfiction, India, 2019),Cathy Park Hong (Poetry, United States, 2018), Erna Brodber (Fiction, Jamaica, 2017), C. E. Morgan(Fiction, United States, 2016), Helen Garner (Nonfiction, Australia, 2016), Helon Habila (Fiction, Nigeria, 2015), and Jeremy Scahill (Nonfiction, United States, 2013)
The Prizes were the brainchild of lifelong partners Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell. The couple were deeply involved in literary circles, collected books avidly, read voraciously as well as penning various works. For years they had discussed the idea of creating an award to highlight literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. When Campbell passed away unexpectedly in 1988, Windham took on the responsibility for making this shared dream a reality. The first prizes were announced in 2013.
The Prizes are administered by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and nominees for the Prizes are considered by judges who remain anonymous before and after the prize announcement. Recipients write in the English language and may live in any part of the world.
To find out more about The Windham-Campbell Prizes 2023, visit here…