The Orwell Prize is the pre-eminent British prize for political writing. There are three annual awards: a Book Prize and a Journalism Prize and a Political Blog Prize. They are awarded to the book, and for the journalism, which is judged to have best achieved George Orwell’s aim to ‘make political writing into an art’. Homage to Catalonia, Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm and Orwell’s incomparable essays still resonate around the world as peerless examples of courageous independence of mind, steely analysis and beautiful writing..
2010 Orwell Prize Winner(July) & Shortlist
Winner: Andrea Gillies – Keeper: Living with Nancy. A journey into Alzheimer's (Short Books)
Can our personalities be taken away from us? Are we more than just the sum of our memories? What exactly is the soul?
Three years ago, Andrea Gillies, a writer and mother of three, took on the care of her mother-in-law Nancy, who was in the middle stages of Alzheimer's disease. This newly extended family moved to a big Victorian house on a headland in the far, far north of Scotland, where the author failed to write a novel and Nancy, her disease accelerated by change, began to move out of the rational world and into dementia's alternative reality.
Keeper is a journal of life in this wild location, in which Gillies tracks Nancy's unravelling grasp on everything that we think of as ordinary, and interweaves her own brilliantly cogent investigations into the way Alzheimer's works. For the family at the centre of this drama, the learning curve was steeper and more interesting than anyone could have imagined.
* Christopher de Bellaigue – Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten Peoples
* Petina Gappah – An Elegy for Easterly
* John Kampfner – Freedom For Sale: How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty
* Kenan Malik – From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy
* Michela Wrong – It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle Blower
Winner: Brown, Andrew: Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future That Disappeared (Granta)
From the 1960s to the 1980s, Sweden was an affluent, egalitarian country envied around the world. Refugees were welcomed, even misfit young Englishmen could find a place there. Andrew Brown spent part of his childhood in Sweden during the 1960s. In the 1970s he married a Swedish woman and worked in a timber mill raising their small son. Fishing became his passion and his escape. In the mid-1980s his marriage and the country fell apart. The Prime Minister was assassinated. The welfare system crumbled along with the industries that had supported it. Twenty years later Andrew Brown travelled the length of Sweden in search of the country he had loved, and then hated, and now found he loved again.
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Judt, Tony: Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century(William Heinemann)- Draws connections between a range of subjects, from the history of the neglect and recovery of the Holocaust to the challenge of 'evil' in understanding the European past. This book shows how much of our history has been sacrificed in the triumph...
Matthews, Owen: Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love and War (Bloomsbury)- An unprecedented insight into the grim brutality of the Russian revolution and the terror of the Cold War On a midsummer day in 1937, Boris Bibikov kissed his two daughters goodbye and disappeared. One of those girls, Lyudmila, was to fall in love...
Pai, Hsiao-Hung: Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour (Penguin)- There are thousands of undocumented Chinese immigrants in Britain. They've travelled here because of desperate poverty, and must keep their heads down and work themselves to the bone. This book reveals a shadowy world where human beings are exploited in ways unimaginable in our civilized twenty-first century.
Rashid, Ahmed: Descent into Chaos: How the War Against Islamic Extremism is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia(Allen Lane) - Since 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, the West has been fighting a 'War an Terror', through force and through the building of new societies in the region. In this clear and devastating account, with unparalleled access and intimate knowledge of the political players, Descent into Chaos chronicles our failure.
Thompson, Mark: The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919(Faber and Faber)- The Western Front dominates our memories of the First World War. Yet a million and half men died in North East Italy in a war that need never have happened, when Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire in May 1915. Led by General Luigi Cadorna, the most ruthless of all the Great War commanders, waves of Italian conscripts were sent charging up the limestone hills north of Trieste to be massacred by troops fighting to save their homelands. This is a great, tragic military history of a war that gave birth to fascism. Mussolini fought in these trenches, but so did many of the greatest modernist writers in Italian and German - Ungaretti, Gadda, Musil, Hemingway. It is through these accounts that Mark Thompson, with great skill and empathy, brings to life this forgotten conflict.
Patrick Cockburn – awarded the Journalism Prize for articles from the London Review of Books and the London Independent.
Jack Night – awarded the Special Prize for Blogs for his blog, NightJack – An English Detective. (Jack Night, a pseudonym, is a serving police officer)
Bennett, Catherine: The Observer
Cockburn, Patrick: The Independent, London Review of Books- Winner
Hitchens, Peter: The Mail on Sunday
Macintyre, Donald: The Independent
Oborne, Peter: Daily Mail, Channel 4 Dispatches, Prospect
Porter, Henry: The Observer
Alix Mortimer: The People's Republic of Mortimer -
Andrew Sparrow: Guardian Politics Blog
Chekov: Three Thousand Versts of Loneliness
Iain Dale: Iain Dale's Diary
Jack Night: Night Jack - Winner
Paul Mason: BBC Newsnight - Idle Scrawl
1994 Neal Ascherson
1995 Paul Foot and Tim Laxton
1996 Melanie Phillips
1997 Ian Bell
1998 Polly Toynbee
1999 Robert Fisk
2000 David McKittrick
2001 David Aaronovitch
2002 Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
2003 Brian Sewell
2004 Vanora Bennett
2005 Matthew Parris
2006 Timothy Garton Ash
2007 Peter Beaumont
2008 Johann Hari
2009 Book Prize Winner | 2009 Shortlisted | 2009 Journalism & Book Prizes | 2008 Book Prize Winners & Shortlists | Book Winners 1994 to present | back to top | home page
Raja Shehadeh navigates recent Palestinian history by walking from Ayn Kenya to the Shukba Caves, the Ramallah hills and the Dead Sea.
Raja Shehadeh is the author of the When the Bulbul Stopped Singing: A Diary of Ramallah Under Siege and Strangers in the Houses . He is a Palestinian lawyer and writer who lives in Ramallah. He is a founder of the human rights organisation, Al-Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, and the author of several books about international law, human rights and the Middle East.
Over two decades of turmoil and change in the Middle East, steered via the history-soaked landscape of Palestine. This new edition includes a previously unpublished epigraph in the form of a walk. When Raja Shehadeh first started hill walking in Palestine, in the late 1970s, he was not aware that he was travelling through a vanishing landscape. These hills would have seemed familiar to Christ, until the day concrete was poured over the flora and irreversible changes were brought about by those who claim a superior love of the land. Six walks span a period of twenty-six years, in the hills around Ramallah, in the Jerusalem wilderness and through the ravines by the Dead Sea. Each walk takes place at a different stage of Palestinian history since 1982, the first in the empty pristine hills and the last amongst the settlements and the wall. The reader senses the changing political atmosphere as well as the physical transformation of the landscape. By recording how the land felt and looked before these calamities, Raja Shehadeh attempts to preserve, at least in words, the Palestinian natural treasures that many Palestinians will never know.
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Nick Cohen – What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way
Nick Cohen argues that the liberal-Left of the 20th century has lost its way. So much so that, Cohen suggests, it now shares some of its political views with the 21st century far Right.
Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and New Statesman. He does occasional pieces for many other publications, including the London Evening Standard and New Humanist. Cruel Britannia, a collection of his journalism, was published by Verso in 1999, and Pretty Straight Guys, a history of Britain under Tony Blair, was published by Faber in 2003.
Jay Griffiths – Wild: An Elemental Journey
384 pages, Hamish Hamilton
Jay Griffiths describes her journeys to wildernesses of earth, ice, water and fire in order to explore the words and meanings which shape our ideas and our experience of our own wildness.
Jay Griffiths' writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the Guardian, the Observer, The Ecologist and Resurgence magazine.
William Hague – William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner
592 pages, Harper Press
William Hague's account of William Wilberforce's turbulent life and career, from the politician's birth in Yorkshire in 1759 through his 20-year-campaign to abolish the Atlantic slave trade, to its final enactment as he lay dying in 1833.
William Hague is Conservative MP for Richmond (Yorks) and Shadow Foreign Secretary. His previous book, William Pitt the Younger, was published in 2004.
Ed Husain – The Islamist: Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw inside and why I left
304 pages, Penguin
Ed Husain's autobiographical exploration of why young British Muslims are turning to extremism. Husain describes his own experiences inside extremist groups, the reasons he joined them and why he left.
Ed Husain was born, raised, and educated in London. He has lived and travelled extensively in the Middle East and worked for the British Council in Damascus and Jeddah. He is conducting doctoral research on Arab experiences of secularism, and is deputy director of the Muslim think-tank, The Quilliam Foundation.
Marina Lewycka – Two Caravans
320 pages, Fig Tree
Marina Lewycka's novel tells the story of Ukrainian, Polish, Chinese and Malawian strawberry pickers, living in two caravans in the English countryside.
Marina Lewycka was born of Ukrainian parents in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, at the end of the war, and grew up in England. She teaches at Sheffield Hallam University. Her first novel is the bestselling A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005).
Clive Stafford Smith – Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay And The Secret Prisons
320 pages, Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Clive Stafford Smith's first hand account of the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and its prisoners.
Stafford Smith is a human-rights lawyer who has spent the last twenty years in the United States representing prisoners on Death Row. His clients include many detainees in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He established the London-based human rights charity Reprieve in 1999.
Johann Hari The Independent- Winner
Clive James BBC Radio 4
Anton La Guardia The Economist
Andrew Rawnsley The Observer
Mary Riddell The Observer
Paul Vallely The Independent
2009 Winner: Brown, Andrew: Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future That Disappeared (Granta) -From the 1960s to the 1980s, Sweden was an affluent, egalitarian country envied around the world. Refugees were welcomed, even misfit young Englishmen could find a place there. Andrew Brown spent part of his childhood in Sweden during the 1960s. In the 1970s he married a Swedish woman and worked in a timber mill raising their small son. Fishing became his passion and his escape. In the mid-1980s his marriage and the country fell apart.
2008 Raja Shehadeh Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape - When the author first started hill walking in Palestine, in the late 1970s, he was not aware that he was travelling through a vanishing landscape. Recording how the land felt and looked before various calamities, this title attempts to preserve, at least in words, the Palestinian natural treasures that many Palestinians never know.
2007 Peter Hennessy Having It So Good: Britain in the 1950s- Evokes Britain emerging from the shadow of war and the privations of austerity and rationing into growing affluence. This book brings to life the ageing Churchill, in his last spell as Prime Minister, and Anthony Eden taking his country to war in...
2006 Delia Jarrett-Macauley Moses, Citizen and Me - When Julia flies in to war-scarred Sierra Leone from London, she is apprehensive about seeing her uncle Moses for the first time in twenty years. But nothing could have prepared her for her encounter with her eight-year-old cousin, Citizen...
2005 Michael Collins The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class - Once they were portrayed as the salt of the earth. Nowadays, they take to the streets when paedophiles and asylum seekers are in their midst;they expose their lives in TV documentaries; they love Gucci and hate the Euro. In this work...
2004 Robert Cooper The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty First Century - Cooper showsthat the key question confronting postmodern states is how they should deal with a world in which missiles and terrorists ignore borders and where the certainties of the Cold War alliances no longer exist.
1994 Anatol Lieven The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence
1995 Fionnuala O'Connor In Search of a State: Catholics in Northern Ireland
1996 Fergal Keane Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey
1997 Peter Godwin Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa
1998 Patricia Hollis Jennie Lee: A Life
1999 D. M. Thomas Alexander Solzhenitsyn: a Century in His Life
2000 Brian Cathcart The Case of Stephen Lawrence
2001 Michael Ignatieff Virtual War
2002 Miranda Carter Anthony Blunt: His Lives
2003 Francis Wheen Hoo-hahs and Passing Frenzies: Collected Journalism 1991-2000