27 Aug 2011

Playwright David Hare wins UK award

11:52 am on 27 August 2011

British playwright and director David Hare, renowned for his gritty portrayals of contemporary Britain, has won the 2011 PEN/Pinter prize.

The prize, established by writers' charity English PEN in memory of British Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter, is the latest in a long history of awards and international acclaim for Hare.

He already holds a BAFTA, a Golden Bear from the Berlin film festival and an Olivier Award.

Pinter's widow and head of the jury, Antonia Fraser, said the playwright had never failed to speak out fearlessly on the subject of politics in the broadest sense.

"This courage, combined with his rich creative talent, makes him a worthy winner of the PEN/Pinter Prize."

Now in its third year, the prize is awarded annually to a British writer, or a writer resident in Britain, who -- in the words of Pinter's Nobel speech -- casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world.

Hare's notable works include Plenty, a portrait of disillusionment in post-war Britain, and The Absence of War, a drama about the Labour Party.

His subject matter is varied -- from the privatisation of Britain's railways in The Permanent Way to Stuff Happens, which explores the invasion of Iraq.

He has also won recognition for his work as a screenwriter and director, including for his adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's novel The Reader which earned him his second Oscar nomination.

The prize is also presented to an international "writer of courage" who has been persecuted for expressing their beliefs.

Last year, the international part of the prize was awarded to Mexican journalist and human rights activist Lydia Cacho, whose book exposing a child pornography ring led to her imprisonment, harassment, and even torture.

The 2011 "writer of courage" will be announced at a public ceremony in the British Library on 10 October.

The previous winners of the main award were poet and playwright Tony Harrison, and Hanif Kureishi, novelist and playwright.