Ugandan Novelist Named International Writer of Courage For 2021

Ugandan novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija,
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The Ugandan novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who was tortured by the Ugandan government in prison over his novel The Greedy Barbarian, has been named this year’s International Writer of Courage by Tsitsi Dangarembga.

The award is part of the PEN Pinter prize, which goes to an author deemed to have fulfilled Harold Pinter’s aspiration to “define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. This year’s PEN Pinter winner, the Zimbabwean writer and activist Dangarembga, chose Rukirabashaija as the International Writer of Courage, an award for an author who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs, with whom she will share her prize.

Rukirabashaija is the author of the novel The Greedy Barbarian, which takes on themes of high-level corruption in a fictional country. He was arrested on 13 April 2020 in Uganda, and held for seven days, during which time he was interrogated about his fiction and subjected to torture.

Rukirabashaija details this treatment, which PEN described as “inhumane and degrading”, in his latest work Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous.

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