British Pakistani writer, Kamila Shamsie, has been denied the privilege of being awarded with the Nelly Sachs Prize by the German city of Dortmund because of her support for for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The author was announced as the winner of the esteemed literary prize, which is named after a Jewish poet, earlier this month, however the jury decided to withdraw its decision later. A statement issued by the city of Dortmund read, “Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS campaign against the Israeli government is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize.”
The eight member jury has also decided to not nominate any other winner this year, mentioning how they were not aware of Shamsie participating in the boycott measures against the Israeli government for its Palestinian policies since 2014.
In a statement released soon after the withdrawal was issued, Shamsie responded with disappointment. “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,” she said in the statement.
— Artists for Palestine UK (@Art4PalestineUK) September 18, 2019
The decision elicited a reaction from the literary community online, with a number of intellectuals taking to their Twitter to voice their disagreement with the decision of the German Literary Authority.
If fiction writers & authors like Kamila Shamsie will be punished for their political beliefs then what will be the future of literature? German Literary Authority must seriously consider its political decision making https://t.co/imWCF5yiZ2 via @@GVS_News
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) September 18, 2019
— Bina Shah (@BinaShah) September 18, 2019
Kamila Shamsie, born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan before settling in London is a renowned author and has penned great works like Kartography, Broken Verses, In the City By the Sea, and Salt and Saffron etc. She has previously been awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018.