Awards: PEN Int'l Writer of Courage; SCBWI MSs

After "surviving an extremist attack in his own country and being forced into exile in Norway," Bangladeshi publisher and writer Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, who is also known as Tutul, was named winner of the International Writer of Courage award by English PEN's Pinter Prize winner Margaret Atwood, the Guardian reported. The award is shared with a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs, selected by the winner in consultation with English PEN's Writers at Risk committee.

Speaking in London, Chowdury described "a strong effort in Bangladesh to turn the wheels of civilization backwards and repeat the events and lies of a barbaric era.... We are challenging this process through rational thinking and through our writing. Anyone who wishes to counter [us] can do so through their writing. But please do not issue fatwas to have me, to have us, killed. Do not dispatch undercover assassins with knives and guns."

Tutul is a publisher, writer and editor who founded Shuddhashar magazine and publishing house in Dhaka, where he promoted progressive work from Bangladeshi writers and bloggers.

"Not only has he shown huge personal courage in the face of adversity, he has also risked everything to give a voice to many other Bangladeshis who are under threat of being silenced, whether through violence or ambivalence," Atwood said. "At a time when so many of our colleagues in Bangladesh are risking their lives simply by putting pen to paper, it seems very fitting to share this award with Tutul, and to highlight the plight that he and his colleagues continue to face."


The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators announced this year's winners of the Sue Alexander Award and Most Promising Picture Book Award, which were chosen from manuscripts submitted for individual critiques by editors and agents at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles.

Heather Zenzen's Sam & Haley won the Sue Alexander Award, which is given to "the manuscript deemed most promising for publication." She will have her synopsis presented to a group of editors and agents. The runner-up was Dear Cat by Zainab Khan.

Kjersten Hayes's How to Build a Rocket Ship in Ten Easy Steps took the Picture Book Award, which recognizes "the picture book manuscript with the most promise." She receives $500 to finish the work-in-progress.

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