Egyptian author Nawal El Saadawi has been awarded this year’s Stig Dagerman Prize. However, when daily Svenska Dagbladet contacted her with the news, she seemed somewhat reluctant.

“You want to talk to me about a prize? Which one of them?” When told about the prize, El Saadawi said: “Is it a prize for human rights or what?” According to El Saadawi, she hasn’t been informed of the prize, and felt she needed details, and wondered if she was going to be invited for a prize ceremony. Svenska Dagbladet called Bengt Söderhäll, the founder and chairman of the Stig Dagerman-sällskapet (the organization that awards the prize).
“Someone’s been piping up,” he said. “The plan is to have the award ceremony on May 27, which marks 25 years of Stig Dagermansällskapet’s beginning, but it’s not clear she (El Saadawi) can come then. We will adjust to her schedule. We don’t just hand out prizes, but ask if people are interested in having it.”
The prize is awarded El Sadaawi for her having been, in every situation, a responsible citizen and for having fought for democracy long before the Arab Spring. The Stig Dagerman Prize has twice earlier been awarded authors who have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize (J.M.G Le Clézio and Elfriede Jelinek).
“Haha,” El Saadawi laughs. “Perhaps in a year or so I’ll have the Nobel Prize in literature also. I have been nominated many times for my novels and my work.” After being informed about the ceremony, she adds that she will come to Älvkarleby to receive the prize. “Of course I will come to Sweden. I’ve been to Stockholm many times before, I have many friends there. Sweden is an amazing country, and very progressive.”


Egyptian author Nawal El Saadawi is the recipient of this year’s Stig Dagerman Prize, which has been awarded since 1996 by the Stig Dagerman sällskapet and Älvkarleby municipality. The award is given to a person who, or an organization that, in the spirit of Stig Dagerman, supports the significance and availability of the "free word" (freedom of speech), promoting inter-cultural understanding and empathy. It was inspired by Dagerman's poem “En dag om året” (One day a year) that sets forth a vision of peace for humanity by imagining one day each year when the world is free from violence. The prize is 50,000 SEK ($7,300).

For more info on the organization, see Stig Dagerman-sällskapet