March 22, 2013

Orwell Prize long list announced


The long list for the Orwell Prize was announced yesterday afternoon. I suppose it goes without saying — though we’ve mentioned it before — that this prize is for writers who “make political writing into art,” like George Orwell. (If you’re in the mood for a treat, this is a good moment to reread his essay “Politics and the English Language.”) The prize was founded by Sir Bernard Crick in 1993 and is funded in part by Orwell’s son, Richard Blair, with support from the A.M. Heath literary agency.

This year’s judges, Nikita Lalwani (Desmond Elliot Award-winning author), Arifa Akbar (assistant books editor, The Independent) and Baroness Joan Bakewell (Labour Party life peer, broadcaster and writer), narrowed down the list from 210 nominees to twelve titles.

Akbar wrote about searching for a balance between style and content in these books in a recent article for the Independent:

“I came across those campaigning books intent on exposing a lie or revealing a truth, and also those ‘writerly’ ones that could shape a sentence beautifully.  The challenge was to find these two qualities in the same book.”

The longlisted books:

Burying the Typewriter by Carmen Bugan
On the Front Line by Marie Colvin
Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland
Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre
El Narco by Ioan Grillo
Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway
From the Ruins of the Empire by Pankaj Mishra
The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston
Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh
Injustice by Clive Stafford Smith
Bloody Nasty People by Daniel Trilling
A Very British Killing by A. T. Williams

The judges for the journalism award are Jo Glanville (Director of English, PEN), Nicholas Timmins (former Public Policy Editor of the Financial Times) and Chris Mullin (author, journalist and former MP). They whittled down the list from a record high 155 nominations to the following fourteen, their subjects ranging from Starbucks to Iraq.

The longlisted journalists:

John Arlidge, The Sunday Times
Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times
Tom Bergin, Reuters
Ian Cobain, Guardian
David Cohen, London Evening Standard
David Gardner, Financial Times
Chris Giles, Financial Times
Abigail Howarth, Marie Claire; The Observer
Paul Mason, BBC News; Guardian
James Meek, London Review of Books
Andrew Norfolk, The Times
Christina Patterson, The Independent
Clare Sambrook, openDemocracy
Kim Sengupta, The Independent

The short list will be announced on April 17th, and the prize on May 15th at an awards ceremony. Each winner receives £3000 and a plaque.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.