2020’s powerful, female-dominated line-up of Windham-Campbell Prize recipients unites a rich, international collection of writers whose challenging work explores pressing political and social themes across identity, culture and power. Now in their eighth year, the Prizes celebrate writers at every stage of their careers.2020’s powerful, female-dominated line-up of Windham-Campbell Prize recipients unites a rich, international collection of writers whose challenging work explores pressing political and social themes across identity, culture and power. Now in their eighth year, the Prizes celebrate writers at every stage of their careers.
In poetry, the British-Indian poet Bhanu Kapil has been recognised, known for exploring crucial questions of trauma, healing and immigration, and the incredible Jonah Mixon-Webster and his unflinching poetry tackling the public health crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. For drama, Julia Cho is the winner. She is the incredible talent behind The Aubergine, Aleshea Harris, whose unflinching works confront the wounds of misogyny and racism. The prizes for fiction have gone to the prolific Chinese-born author of The Vagrants, Yiyun Li and Zambian author Namwali Serpell who explores themes of identity and belonging. And in nonfiction, Australian writer Maria Tumarkin has been awarded, whose works explore the lives of ordinary people with extraordinarily painful pasts, and Anne Boyer, author of the searingly honest exploration of cancer The Undying. Mike Kelleher, Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes said about this year’s recipients, “This is such an exciting group of prize recipients—so many utterly original voices from so many different places. Their work digs deeply into everything from the poisoned water crisis in present-day Flint, Michigan to the vicissitudes of the surveillance state in an Afro-Futurist Zambia.
To read the work of these eight writers—seven of them women—is simply overwhelming.” In 2020 the Windham-Campbell Prizes celebrate eight winners in four categories, each of whom will receive $165,000 USD.
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 and read voraciously. They also penned various works, such as novels, plays and short stories, amongst others. 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.