Playwright Tom Stoppard wins PEN/Pinter prize

LONDON (AP) — Oscar-winning playwright Tom Stoppard has been awarded a major freedom-of-speech prize for his determination to “tell things as they are,” writers organization PEN said in a statement Wednesday.

The PEN/Pinter prize was established in 2009 in memory of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter. It goes jointly to a British writer seen as sharing Pinter’s” unflinching unswerving” gaze on society, and a “writer of courage” who has faced persecution, chosen by the British winner and PEN.

Stoppard, who scripted Oscar-winner “Shakespeare in Love,” is the author of plays including “Arcadia” and “The Real Thing.”

Gillian Slovo, who chaired the 5-judge panel, said in a statement that the judges unanimously agreed that Stoppard’s work fulfilled the criteria Pinter had set out in describing characteristics he most admired in a writer — “courage and truthfulness, a determination to tell things as they are.”

Pinter’s widow, Antonia Fraser, said her husband had admired Stoppard’s works and “bold stance on public issues of all sorts.”

Stoppard said that Pinter was one of the reasons he had wanted to write plays and had been a model for “fearless integrity.”

“Most of us had occasion to feel humbled by his example,” Stoppard said in the statement.

Stoppard will share his prize with a writer he selects who has been intimidated for speaking out about their beliefs.

The co-winner will be announced at a ceremony at the British Library on Oct. 7, when Stoppard accepts his award.

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