Eight writers awarded Yale’s Windham-Campbell Prizes

Eight writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama received this year’s international award in recognition of literary achievements or promise.
Portraits of Windham-Campbell Prize winners

The 2024 recipients of the Windham-Campbell Prizes. Top row, left to right: Hanif Abdurraqib, Christopher Chen, Jen Hadfield, and Sonya Kelly. Bottom row, left to right: Deirdre Madden, m. nourbeSe Philip, Kathryn Scanlan, and Christina Sharpe.

Yale University today announced the eight recipients of the 2024 Windham-Campbell Prizes, one of the world’s most significant international literary awards. The recipients, honored for their literary achievement or promise, will each receive $175,000 to support their work.

The recipients are, in fiction, Deirdre Madden (Ireland) and Kathryn Scanlan (United States); in nonfiction, Christina Sharpe (Canada/United States) and Hanif Abdurraqib (United States); in drama, Christopher Chen (United States) and Sonya Kelly (Ireland); and in poetry, m. nourbeSe Philip (Canada/Trinidad and Tobago) and Jen Hadfield (Canada/United Kingdom).

Each recipient was contacted directly by Michael Kelleher, director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, who shared with them the news of their selections.

Each year, I feel incredibly honored to call the eight recipients: to be the messenger delivering the entirely unexpected and life-changing news that they have been awarded the prize,” said Kelleher. “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 without pressure or expectation.”

The awards will be presented in person in the fall during an annual international literary festival at Yale. 

The prizes were established in 2013 through a gift from writer Donald Windham in memory of Sandy Campbell, his partner of 40 years. Administered by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, part of the Yale University Library, they are conferred annually to eight writers working in English anywhere in the world in fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry. Writers can be awarded the prize during any stage of their careers. To date, 99 writers representing 21 countries have received the Windham-Campbell Prize.

The recipients, who are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously, don’t know they are being considered for the prize until Kelleher contacts them about the judges’ decision.

I’ve been walking around in a daze — in a dream — since receiving the life-changing news of this prize,” said Kathryn Scanlan, whose most recent novel, “Kick the Latch,” brings to life the world of horse racing. “It’s impossible to adequately thank the judges, nominators, and Donald Windham for the generosity and support of this outrageous gift.”

Fiction recipient Deirdre Madden, who has authored eight novels, often begins her narratives from deceptively simple premises — the birthday of a friend (“Molly Fox’s Birthday”); a chance meeting with a stranger (“Authenticity”) — that grow into complex and elegant meditations on art and experience, love and knowledge, memory and meaning.   

The work of Hanif Abdurraqib, the author of three books of nonfiction, covers a wide range of subjects — Michael Jackson and moon walks, Sun Ra and NASA missions — incorporating the personal and the political with joy and seeming effortlessness.

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,” Abdurraqib said. “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.”

Nonfiction recipient Christina Sharpe’s work explores the complex relationship between language and Black being. Her 2023 book, “Ordinary Notes,” fuses archival work, cultural criticism, memoir, and photography in a series of 248 numbered notes that reflect on the “ordinary extraordinary matter of black life.”

Dramatist Sonya Kelly has authored five full-length plays and numerous scripts for film, radio, and television. From her first play, “The Wheelchair on My Face” (2011), to her most recent, “The Last Return” (2022), Kelly wields farce and satire to expose the cruelty and chaos roiling beneath the veneer of civilization.

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,” Kelly said. “It takes a village to raise a playwright. Thank you every single person whose work and wisdom illuminated the way to this incredible honor. Words fail. How delightfully ironic.”

Playwright Christopher Chen has authored more than a dozen innovative and politically provocative plays, including his most recent, “The Headlands,” (2020), a neo-noir that engages vast themes — class and race, death and desire — with a structure that might best be described as musical.   

Poetry recipient m. nourbeSe Philip produces work across genres that deeply engages with the complexities of art, colonialism, identity, and race, with a particular interest in forgotten and suppressed histories. For example, her book-length poem, “Zong!” (2008) concerns the 1781 murder of 142 Africans committed by a slave-ship crew so that the vessel’s owner could secure insurance payments. The poem’s words are drawn entirely from records of a 1783 court case that concluded the massacre was legal.

Jen Hadfield, a visual artist and the author of four poetry collections, draws inspiration from her experiences living, working, and traveling in Canada and the Shetland Islands. Her poems “slow down time, reveal overlooked details of the natural world, and forge complex relationships between language, history, and place,” according to the judges’ citation.

It's a life-changer: it feels like true creative freedom,” Hadfield said of being named a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize.

Biographies of the recipients and additional background on the prizes, including past recipients, are available on the Windham-Campbell Prizes website.

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Media Contact

Allison Bensinger: allison.bensinger@yale.edu,