The annual Disturbing the Peace award recognizes writers of distinguished works of fiction, literary nonfiction, biography, memoire, drama, or poetry who are courageous in dissent and have suffered unjust persecution for their beliefs. The award helps protect awardees with the shield of international attention while enriching public understanding of the power of the written word to preserve and promote humanity’s highest ideals. The award comes with a $5,000 cash prize and a possible writing residency in Prague.
The short list of nominees for 2022 are:
Akram Aylisli (Azerbaijan)
Andrey Kurkov (Ukraine)
Kakwenza Rukirabashaija (Uganda)
Oleg Sentsov (Ukraine)
Anand Teltumbde (India)
The following institutions provided the nominations:
About the short-listed nominees for the 2022 Disturbing the Peace Award:
Akram Aylisli is a renowned Azerbaijani writer, playwright, novelist, and editor whose works have been translated into more than twenty languages. His best known novella is Stone Dreams, which deals with the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In the furor that the novella aroused, Aylisli was subjected to a years’-long harassment campaign by the authorities. He now lives under de facto house arrest in Baku, unable to leave the country.
Andrey Kurkov is a screenwriter and the author of critically acclaimed novels, including the bestselling Death and the Penguin. He is president of PEN Ukraine. Kurkov has long been a respected commentator on Ukraine for world media. Since Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, Kurkov has devoted his time to speaking with reporters and writing guest essays for newspapers and magazines to get the word out about the situation in Ukraine.
Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is a novelist, human rights activist, board member of Center PEN Uganda, and winner of the 2021 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage. He is best known for his debut novel The Greedy Barbarian, which many readers take to be a satire on the current political situation in Uganda. In 2020, Rukirabashaija was arrested at his home by intelligence officers and detained for seven days, at times blindfolded and in solitary confinement. Rukirabashaija has since fled Uganda out of fear for his safety.
Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker and short story writer best known for his 2011 film Gamer. In 2015, Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison on spurious terrorism charges. He received the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2018. Since leaving prison in 2019, Sentsov has worked to release of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and spoken out against Vladimir Putin. He now fights with Ukraine’s territorial defense forces.
Anand Teltumbde is an Indian scholar, writer, civil rights activist, and public intellectual. He has written extensively on Dalit rights and the anti-caste movement. He is senior professor at the Goa Institute of Management and columnist at the Economic and Political Weekly. In 2019, Teltumbe was arrested as part of a government crackdown on lawyers and activists. He has been denied bail and remains in prison today.
The 2022 Disturbing the Peace Award shortlist was prepared by a selection committee whose members are:
Tamar Newberger, computer scientist and activist
Pavla Niklova, VHLF executive director
Martin Palous, former Czech ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, and
president, VHLF board of directors
Linda Sokacova, director, Amnesty International Czech Republic
Lise Stone, vice chair, VHLF board of directors
Salil Tripathi, former chair of Writers in Prison Committee, board member, PEN International
Marilyn Wyatt, vice chair, VHLF board of directors