Windham Campbell prizes go to Geoff Dyer, Teju Cole, others

Geoff Dyer is a recipient of the $150,000 Windham Campbell prize.
(Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

The nine recipients of the 2015 Windham Campbell Prizes were announced Tuesday morning. Each writer will receive a $150,000 prize.

“I’ve won quite a few prizes with cachet but no cash, so this is a wonderful combination of the two,” Geoff Dyer, one of three nonfiction recipients, told the Los Angeles Times by email. “I’m very happy because money always translates into time and freedom from (one source of) anxiety. And it’s important, for me, never to have any commercial motives in my mind when writing books.”

Dyer, a Brit who lives part of the year in Los Angeles, writes books that often push the boundaries of nonfiction. “Out of Sheer Rage” is a book about not writing a book about D.H. Lawrence; “Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It” is not about yoga; “Zona” reflectively atomizes the film “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky.


Other nonfiction prize recipients are American writer John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of the lauded essay collection “Pulphead,” and British artist Edmund de Waal, author of the memoir “The Hare with the Amber Eyes.”

Fiction recipients are Teju Cole, author of the novel “Open City,” who brings his experiences in the U.S. and Nigeria to bear in his writing; Nigerian novelist Helon Habila, a professor in the U.S. whose book “Waiting for an Angel” won the prestigious Caine Prize; and South African writer Ivan Vladislavic, whose most recent novel is “Double Negative.”

Three prizes are also awarded in drama; the recipients are American playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury and British playwrights Helen Edmundson and Debbie Tucker Green.

The Windham Campbell prizes are named for writer Donald Windham and his life partner, Sandy M. Campbell. “Donald Windham recognized that the most significant gift he could give to another writer was time to write,” said Michael Kelleher, director of the program. The prize is a one-time gift of $150,000 with no commitments -- other than the mandate that the recipients come to Yale, which administers the prizes, for an awards ceremony and literary festival in September.

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