The director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes at Yale University made the call of a lifetime to eight unsuspecting writers this week, and informed them that they will be recognized with a $165,000 individual prize to support their writing. This year’s recipients of one of the world’s richest literature prizes for the first time include poets, alongside writers of fiction, nonfiction, and drama. The awards will be conferred in September at an international literary festival at Yale, celebrating the honored writers and introducing them to new audiences.
Established in 2013 with a gift from the late Donald Windham in memory of his partner of forty years, Sandy M. Campbell, the Prizes are celebrating their fifth year of existence. English language writers from anywhere in the world are eligible. Prize recipients are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously. The call that Prize recipients receive from program director Michael Kelleher is the first time that they have learned of their consideration.
This year’s Windham-Campbell Prize recipients are: in fiction, André Alexis and Erna Brodber; in nonfiction, Maya Jasanoff and Ashleigh Young; in poetry, Ali Cobby Eckermann and Carolyn Forché; and in drama, Marina Carr and Ike Holter.
The Windham-Campbell Festival will take place from September 13-15, 2017 at Yale, and begins with an awards ceremony and an invited speaker who gives a talk entitled, “Why I Write.” This year’s keynote will be delivered by Karl Ove Knausgård. Yale’s campus is in New Haven, Connecticut, two hours by train from both New York and Boston, and all events are free and open to the public.
The Windham-Campbell Prizes are administered by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.
Many writers work other jobs in order to afford to write. The Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes are designed to give writers of all kinds the financial freedom to focus on the writing that matters the most to them. For more information about the prizes, read Norah Myers’ interview with founding director Michael Kelleher.