Imprisoned Uyghur author Parhat Tursun was awarded the 2022 Tucholsky Prize.
Swedish PEN announced that it would be giving Uyghur writer Parhat Tursun the Tucholsky prize, named after the German writer Kurt Tucholsky who fled Nazi Germany for Sweden. It is awarded annually to a persecuted or exiled writer, with previous recipients including Salman Rushdie and Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich.
Parhat Tursun is an Uyghur writer and poet. He is considered to be one of the most notable modern Uyghur writers. In January 2018, he was seized by Chinese authorities from Urumqi and was later reported to have been sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment.
The announcement reads: ”For his strong voice for free literature, regardless of cultural taboos or ethno-political oppression, that in a natural and deeply moving way portrays human experience from a minority perspective, the Uyghur author Perhat Tursun is awarded the 2022 Tucholsky Prize.”
The works of Parhat Tursun include One Hundred Love Lyrics (1998), Messiah Desert (1998), The Art of Suicide (1999), The Backstreets: A Novel from Xinjiang, translated by Darren Byler and Anonymous, published by Columbia University Press (2022)
Writing for Foreign Policy, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian described him as China’s Salman Rushdie, due to the controversy sparked by his 1999 novel, The Art of Suicide. Fellow modernist Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut Izgil has described his writing as “truly unique”.Two Poems: ‘Morning Feeling’ and ‘Elegy’,” translated by Joshua L. Freeman, Hayden’s Ferry Review.
One of the previous winners of the Prize was Swedish-Chinese publisher Gui Minhai, one of five Hong Kong-based book merchants and publishers who vanished in 2015 after publishing works that were critical of the Chinese government.