France-based Rwandan novelist Scholastique Mukasonga has made history after she became the first African woman to win the 2021 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom.
The prize is awarded to a person or an association, for work or action which, everywhere in the world in all fields, law, work, education, research, literature, daily life, activism…-defends and makes advance women’s freedom, never definitely acquired.
After being announced as the prize winner, the 65-year-old novelist said, “It’s a nice surprise, which comes to me as I am writing the book which is the most feminist of my novels”
Mukasonga will receive the prize at an award ceremony that will take place on May 31, 2021, at Maison de l’Amérique Latine, Paris, France.
In addition to authoring three novels, three memoirs, and a collection of short stories, Mukasonga is a licensed social worker.
Exiled from Rwanda as a young woman, she completed her education in Burundi where she began working with UNICEF. Mukasonga then settled in France in 1992 where she resumed her exams and continued social work. In 1994, she received a letter informing her of the deaths of 37 family members during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Mukasonga has dedicated her passion to writing novels and memoirs which mainly explore themes of homeland, family, exile, and grief.
Her novel, Our Lady of the Nile (Notre-Dame du Nil), won the Ahamadou Kourouma Prize and the Renaudot Prize and was adapted to film in 2020 by Atiq Rahimi.
The novel also won the ‘Prix Ahmadou Kourouma’ (Ahmadou Kourouma Prize) in 2012 and the prestigious literary ‘Prix Renaudot’ (Renaudot Prize).
She was also among the nominees of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2020 which was eventually won by American poet Louise Glück.