Islamabad, Sep 24, 2019 –
Over 250 authors have protested against a German organisation’s move to withdraw its decision to confer an award to Pakistani-origin British author Kamila Shamsie over her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
In an open letter published in the London Review of Books, the writers, including Arundhati Roy, Amit Chaudhuri, J.M. Coetzee, Sally Rooney, Noam Chomsky, William Dalrymple, Yann Martel, Jeanette Winterson and Ben Okri, have said that the Nelly Sachs prize has chosen to “punish an author for her human rights advocacy”, Dawn news quoted the Guardian as saying in a report on Monday.
Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet and writer Michael Ondaatje, a former winner of the award, is one of the signatories to the letter.
The German city of Dortmund had announced earlier this month that this year’s Nelly Sachs Prize would be conferred to Shamsie.
However, on September 18, the organisers said that the eight-member jury has reversed its decision and that the 2019 award will not be handed to Shamsie.
The organisers said that “despite prior research, the members of the jury were not aware that the author has been participating in the boycott measures against the Israeli government for its Palestinian policies since 2014”.
Reacting to the move, Shamsie said that “it is a matter of great sadness to me that a jury should bow to pressure and withdraw a prize from a writer who is exercising her freedom of conscience and freedom of expression”.
Last year, Shamsie won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her seventh novel, “Home Fire”, which was also longlisted for the 2017 Booker Prize. (Agency)