Earlier this month, award-winning British-Pakistani author, Kamila Shamsie was announced as this year’s winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize, which is named after a Jewish poet and Nobel Laureate.
However, in a recent turn of events, the jury has withdrawn its decision to honour Kamila Shamsie with the literary award over her pro-Palestine stance. The eight-member jury has also decided to not nominate any other winner for this year’s prize.
“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,” read the statement released by the Dortmund city council.
It further stated, “Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) campaign against the Israeli government is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize.”
Kamila Shamsie took to Twitter and condemned the decision, stating, “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.”
“It is a matter of outrage that the BDS movement (modeled on the South African boycott) that campaigns against the government of Israel for its acts of discrimination and brutality against Palestinians should be held up as something shameful and unjust,” she added.
In the past, Kamila Shamsie has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel Home Fire and was also nominated for the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.