Windham-Campbell Prizes reveal 2024 recipients

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Eight writers set to receive $175,000 each
Offering financial security & creative freedom

The Windham-Campbell Prizes have awarded eight extraordinary writers $175,000 each to support their work and allow them to focus on their creative practice independent of financial concerns.

The 2024 recipients are:

  • Deirdre Madden (Ireland) – fiction
  • Kathryn Scanlan (United States) – fiction
  • Christina Sharpe (Canada/United States) – nonfiction
  • Hanif Abdurraqib (United States) – nonfiction
  • Christopher Chen (United States) – drama
  • Sonya Kelly (Ireland) – drama
  • nourbeSe philip (Canada/Trinidad and Tobago) – poetry
  • Jen Hadfield (United Kingdom/Canada) – poetry


The Windham-Campbell Prizes are a major global prize that 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 over $18m USD – they are one of the most significant prizes in the world.

Michael Kelleher, Director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, said: “Each year, I feel incredibly honoured to call the eight recipients: to be the messenger delivering the entirely unexpected and life-changing news that they have been awarded $175,000. It is clear – now, more than ever – how challenging working in the creative industries, around the world, can be.  A Windham Campbell Prize is intended to offer financial security, and through this freedom, the time and space to write, to think, to create – all without pressure or expectation.”

For Fiction, the Prize has recognised Ireland’s multi-award-winning writer Deirdre Madden, whose work across decades – twelve extraordinary novels including Molly Fox’s Birthday – explores the political, economic and personal through understated yet resonant prose, returning again and again to themes of memory, identity, relationships and the role played by the arts in daily life. American novelist Kathryn Scanlan is also rewarded for her ever-evolving rich, sharp, and absurdist works, such as Kick the Latch, that defy traditional genre categorization.


The Windham-Campbell Prize 2024 selection committee – which remains anonymous – has given the following citations for Deirdre Madden and Kathryn Scanlan:


“Deirdre Madden’s novels bring to life the smallest movements of characters’ impulses and thoughts, portraying the intricacies of human lives with compassion and effortless depth.”


“Blending documentary and fiction, Kathryn Scanlan fuses mundane experiences with the density of a redemptive vision, capturing the harrowing events of ordinary lives in raw, hard-hitting prose.”

In Nonfiction, American academic Christina Sharpe is celebrated for her work – such as Ordinary Notes, a New Yorker and New York Times Book of the Year – exploring the complex relationship between language and black being, in which Sharpe fuses archival work, cultural criticism, memoir, and photography. Fellow American – a native of Columbus, Ohio – Hanif Abdurraqib is also presented a Windham-Campbell Prize for Nonfiction, in recognition of his beautiful, vital and moving body of highly acclaimed literary criticism, including the Carnegie Medal winning A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance. 


The Windham-Campbell Prize 2024 selection committee – which remains anonymous – has given the following citations for Christina Sharpe and Hanif Abdurraqib:


“Recalibrating images of black existence, Christina Sharpe’s incisive, multi-layered work demands that we wrestle with brutality as we create meaning through language and art.”


“Hanif Abdurraqib turns a poet’s gaze toward cultural archives, finds grace in the kinetic energy of performing bodies, and shows us how to find joy and generosity in unlikely places.”

For Drama, San Francisco-born playwright Christopher Chen is honoured for his portfolio of formally innovative and politically provocative plays – including the Obie Award for Playwriting-winning Caught – which continuously implicate audiences in questions about art, history, identity, and experience. One of the most exciting voices on the international theatrical scene over the past decade, Ireland’s Sonya Kelly, has been rewarded for her skill and elegance as a storyteller, crafting universal, dramatic experiences – as seen in her plays such as Once Upon a Bridge and The Last Return – that are simultaneously funny, farcical, thrilling, satirical and deeply serious.


The Windham-Campbell Prize 2024 selection committee – which remains anonymous – has given the following citations for Christopher Chen and Sonya Kelly:


“Christopher Chen challenges our relationship to truth and accuracy, spectatorship and performance, repeatedly disrupting our expectations of drama and form.”


“Sonya Kelly’s plays sparkle with the quirkiness of the everyday, exploding fleeting moments into lyrical revelations, as she grapples with human fragility and pathos.”


In Poetry, Trinidad and Tobago’s internationally renowned poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist, m. nourbeSe philip, has been selected for her diverse and rich body of work – including Zong! As Told to the Author by Setaey Adamu Boateng – that is deeply engaged with the complexities of art, colonialism, identity, race, and forgotten and suppressed histories, and that constantly pushes boundaries on the page and in performance. The United Kingdom and Canada’s Jen Hadfield – poet, bookmaker and visual artist – is also recognised for her exceptional poetry collections such as the T.S. Eliot award-winning Nigh-No-Place. Hadfield’s work is characterized by a deep immersion in the matters of language and place, the use of Shetlandic and Scots dialect, and a profound focus on ecological matters including an intense grief at the damage that humanity has done to the environment.


The Windham-Campbell Prize 2024 selection committee – which remains anonymous – has given the following citations for m. nourbeSe philip and Jen Hadfield:


“Inventing derelict tongues of refusal, m. nourbeSe philip breaks open and reimagines the horror of official speech and how it acts, creating a genre-obliterating poetry.”


“Jen Hadfield’s intricate poems slow down time, reveal overlooked details of the natural world, and forge complex relationships between language, history, and place.”

Previous recipients include Percival Everett (Fiction, United States, 2023), Tsitsi Dangarembga (Fiction, Zimbabwe, 2022), Margo Jefferson (Nonfiction, United States, 2022), Vivian Gornick (Nonfiction, United States, 2021), Bhanu Kapil (Poetry, United Kingdom, 2020), Kwame Dawes (Poetry, United States, Jamaica, Ghana, 2019), Cathy Park Hong (Poetry, United States, 2018), Lorna Goodison(Poetry, Jamaica/Canada, 2018), Suzan-Lori Parks (Drama, United States, 2018), Marina Carr (Drama, Ireland, 2017), C. E. Morgan(Fiction, United States, 2016), Helen Garner (Nonfiction, Australia, 2016), Edmund de Waal (Nonfiction, United Kingdom, 2015), Teju Cole (Fiction, United States/Nigeria, 2015), Helon Habila (Fiction, Nigeria, 2015), Pankaj Mishra (Fiction, India, 2014), Jeremy Scahill(Nonfiction, United States, 2013) and James Salter (Fiction, 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.




Deirdre Madden (Ireland)


Deirdre Madden is a writer from Toomebridge, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The author of eight acclaimed novels, she has twice been a finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2009, 1996) and has received numerous other awards and honors, including the Hennessy Literary Awards Hall of Fame (2014), the Somerset Maugham Award (1989), and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (1980). Madden’s narratives often begin from a deceptively simple premise—the birthday of a friend (Molly Fox’s Birthday [2008]); a chance meeting with a stranger (Authenticity [2002])—from which emerge complex and elegant meditations on art and experience, love and knowledge, memory and meaning. In her novel Time Present and Time Past(2013), a character watches the ticking hands of a clock, reflecting that “sometimes he feels he can almost hear time rushing past him; it is like a kind of unholy wind.” Madden’s stories show us how we are both bound and freed by the “unholy wind” of time. Her characters’ lives are intersected by extraordinary events: some political (the Troubles), some economic (the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger), some personal, all sudden openings that offer the rare opportunity for transformation and even transcendence. Madden holds a BA from Trinity College, Dublin and an MA from the University of East Anglia. She has been a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland, since 1997, and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Co-Director of the M.Phil in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin.


“To have such wonderful and such wholly unexpected news has been just amazing. I’m still astonished!”


Kathryn Scanlan (United States)


Born in Iowa in 1980, Kathryn Scanlan is the author of two novels and one collection of short stories. With echoes of Donald Barthelme and Silvina Ocampo, Sherwood Anderson and Raymond Carver, Scanlan’s rich, sharp, and absurdist works defy traditional genre categorization. Her debut, Aug 9—Fog (2019), narrates a year in the life of an octogenarian woman caring for her dying son-in-law—a chronicle that Scanlan spins from an actual diary she purchased at an estate sale. Her most recent work, Kick the Latch (2022), continues to tread the line between fiction and nonfiction, oral history and the novel, building upon and inventing from interviews that Scanlan did with a real horse trainer. At once expansive and spare, Kick the Latchbrings to exhilarating life the world of horse racing: its dim racetrack bars and gritty roadside motels, its fancy boots and the strange language of “grooms, jockeys, trainers, racing secretaries, stewards, pony people, hotwalkers, everybody.” Scanlan, winner of a 2021 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, is an innovator of form, endlessly interested in ordinary life and its extraordinary, if intermittent, heights of beauty, suffering, violence, and pleasure. Scanlan’s work has appeared in Egress, Granta, and NOON, among other places, and her short story “The Old Mill” was selected by Michael Cunningham for the 2010 Iowa Review Fiction Prize. A graduate of the University of Iowa and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she currently lives in Los Angeles.





Christina Sharpe (Canada/United States)


Born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Christina Sharpe is the Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University in Toronto, Canada, as well as the author of three books of nonfiction: Ordinary Notes (2023), In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016), and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (2010). In all her work, Sharpe explores the complex relationship between language and black being. In the Wake, for example, takes as its first principle that black death—both literal and metaphorical—remains essential to US (and global) political and social life. The book articulates a new orthography of the wake of chattel slavery through inhabiting the metaphor and material of the wake, the ship, the hold, and the weather. Sharpe’s latest work, Ordinary Notes, develops this thinking in the formally inventive, intimate and revelatory ways, fusing archival work, cultural criticism, memoir, and photography in a series of 248 numbered notes that reflect on the “ordinary extraordinary matter of black life.” “I write these ordinary things,” Sharpe says, “to detail the everyday sonic and haptic vocabularies of living life under these brutal regimes.” Sharpe’s “radiant moments of ordinariness” demonstrate, brilliantly, how beauty, as an attention to everything, can be a method and a radical force not just for recognizing and refusing antiblack structures and logics but for contending with their continuation into the brutality of the present. Sharpe’s writing has also appeared in many artist catalogues and journals. Ordinary Notes was a Finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction. The winner of the 2023 Hilary Weston Writers Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Sharpe lives in Toronto.


“This award has significance for every aspect of my life.  I am astonished. What a wonderful group to be a part of, what a wonder. All I can say is thank you.”


Hanif Abdurraqib (United States)


A native of Columbus, Ohio, Hanif Abdurraqib is the author of three critically acclaimed books of nonfiction and five poetry collections. A writer of extraordinary depth, style, and range, Abdurraqib is a public intellectual in the truest sense of the term, combining discursive flexibility with a profound emotional and intellectual rigor. In both his essays and in books like A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance (2021), Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest (2019), and They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us (2017), Abdurraqib moves through a wide range of subjects—Michael Jackson and moon walks, Sun Ra and NASA missions—incorporating the personal and the political with both joy and seeming effortlessness. Beautiful, vital, and moving, Abdurraqib’s extraordinary body of criticism reminds us that, to paraphrase Susan Sontag, thinking is a form of feeling and feeling a form of thinking. The recipient of an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction (2022), the Gordon Burn Prize (2021), and a MacArthur Fellowship (2021) among other honors, Abdurraqib is also the host of a weekly podcast called “Object of Sound” with Sonos Radio.


“Gratitude is a practice, and is not a stagnant one, it is a practice that grows, continually, and it has grown mightily for me here, especially as I see the company I am in. The real gift of doing the work is getting to do it alongside writers you admire, and to share some decoration with them is an added joyful bonus.”




Christopher Chen (United States)


San Francisco-born playwright Christopher Chen is the author of more than a dozen formally innovative and politically provocative plays, including, most recently, The Headlands (2020) and Passage (2019). The Headlands, a neo-noir set in the Bay Area, engages vast themes—class and race, death and desire—with a structure that might best be described as musical. Images and scenes repeat once, twice, even three times. Each recurrence, like a succession of notes, expands our sense not just of Chen’s characters and plot but of the possibilities of theater itself. In Passage, inspired by E. M. Forster’s 1924 novel A Passage to India, Chen interrogates contemporary intercultural exchanges and socio-political systems to dark and comic effect, elegantly generating a meta-investigation into performance and spectatorship. Chen’s work continuously implicates audiences in questions about art, history, identity, and experience; as a character in Caught (2016) contends, “People immerse themselves in other cultures because they are searching for something within themselves, taking parts of the culture that fill a need, leaving the rest behind.” Chen’s hallmark as a playwright is his refusal to let us leave anything behind. The recipient of a United States Artists USA Fellowship (2021), a Steinberg Playwright Award (2020), and an Obie Award for Playwriting (2017), among many other honors, Chen holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in playwriting from San Francisco State University. He lives in California.


“I was speechless when I first found out. And then I felt a mixture of both deep humility and validation, and an overwhelmingly joyful urge to get back to my writing.”


Sonya Kelly (Ireland) 


Over the last decade, Sonya Kelly has established herself as one of the most promising voices on the international theatrical scene. The author of five full-length plays, as well as numerous scripts for film, radio, and television, Kelly is both a skilled storyteller and an elegant stylist, crafting dramatic experiences that are simultaneously funny, thrilling, and deeply serious. From her first play, The Wheelchair on My Face (2011), to her most recent, The Last Return (2022), Kelly expertly wields farce and satire to expose the cruelty and chaos roiling beneath the veneer of civilization—or, as one of her characters puts it, “the system.” In Once Upon a Bridge (2021), a finalist for the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Best New Play Award, a seemingly random incident (a female walker is pushed into the path of a bus by a male jogger), spirals outward to become a complex conversation about gender, racial injustice, and the uneasy relationship between personal and public spaces. In all her writing, Kelly melds the personal and the political with great aplomb, using the daily, the microcosmic, and the ordinary to speak on an epic scale. Kellys work has been recognized with two Scotsman Fringe First Awards (2022, 2012) as well as the Stewart Parker Award (2018), a Writers’ Guild of Ireland Award (2019) and the Dublin Fringe Award for Best Production (2014). A graduate of Trinity College, she lives in Dublin with her wife and daughter. Sonya is a member of The Dean Arts Studios, an organisation dedicated to supporting artists from all over the world by providing rent free space.


“My sincerest thanks to the Windham-Campbell Prizes. There is now a dent in my floor where my jaw hit it, which will serve as a permanent reminder of this deeply humbling moment. It takes a village to raise a playwright. Thank you every single person whose work and wisdom illuminated the way to this incredible honour. Words fail. How delightfully ironic.”




m. nourbeSe philip (Canada/Trinidad and Tobago)


Born in Woodlands, Moriah, Trinidad and Tobago in 1947, m. nourbeSe philip is an internationally renowned poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist. Across her diverse and rich body of work, Philip has constantly and deeply engaged with the complexities of art, colonialism, identity, and race, with a particular interest in forgotten and suppressed histories. In her 2017 book Bla_k: Essays and Interviews, Philip describes her long struggle against the horrors of history: “I’m still hunting, trying to find the word or words to describe the Middle Passage, site of so much grief and trauma, final home to so many of us.” Her work Zong! (2008) is at once a representation of this struggle as well as a recovery of its historical subject: the murder of 142 Africans by a slave-ship crew in 1781. Zong!, which has become a seminal text of memory work, sets the terms for what it means both to write poetry in the long shadow of the transatlantic slave trade and to contend not just with political and social violence but with the many accompanying forms of silence: archival, historical, and aesthetic. Zong!, like Philip’s earlier works, including She Tries Her Tongue—Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989), are demotic in the most profound sense, using multiple forms and voices to speak to the postcolonial world at large and to its inhabitants past, present, and future. The recipient of many honors, including the Molson Prize (2021), the PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature (2020), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1990), Philip was educated at the University of the West Indies and earned graduate degrees in law and political science from the University of Western Ontario. Her writing has featured in numerous anthologies, including the Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women in English (2000) and International Feminist Fiction (1992), among others. She lives in Toronto.


“Holy, holy shit! Is this for real? Still can’t believe it!”


Jen Hadfield (United Kingdom/Canada)


A poet, bookmaker, and visual artist, Jen Hadfield was born in Cheshire, England to a British father and a Canadian mother. Across four collections of poetry, Hadfield has established herself as a true poet of the Anthropocene, expressing intense grief at the damage that humanity has done to the environment as well as the profound joy that can be found in transcending the scale of the human, and particularly in directing our attention to what is much bigger or smaller, briefer or more ancient, than we are. Hadfield’s second collection, Nigh-No-Place (2008), for which she received the T. S. Eliot Prize, foregrounds this project of attention-giving. Written in English shot through with Shetlandic and Scots dialect phrases and words, the poems in Nigh-No-Place bring us into a world of mist and pine, down into the “soil’s dark meat,” showing us that the closer we look, the further we can see; the more focused our gaze, the wider our angle of vision. Hadfield earned her BA from the University of Edinburgh and MLitt in creative writing from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow. Her awards and honors include a Highland Books Prize (2022), an Edwin Morgan International Poetry Award (2012), the Dewar Award (2007) and an Eric Gregory Award (2003), as well as residencies with the Shetland Arts Trust and the Scottish Poetry Library. In 2014, she was named by the Poetry Book Society as one of twenty poets selected to represent the Next Generation of poets in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Hadfield currently lives in the Shetland Islands, where she is Reader in Residence at Shetland Library.


I’m honoured, grateful and astonished to be awarded a Windham Campbell prize. It’s a life-changer: it feels like true creative freedom.”


Established in 2013 with a significant gift from Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy Campbell, the Windham-Campbell Prizes are among the richest and most prestigious literary prizes on earth. The community, camaraderie, diversity, and inclusive nature of the Prizes honours the spirit of their lives. www.windhamcampbell.org @WindhamCampbell #WindhamCampbellPrizes