Archives: Political fiction entriesTTTT


The magisterial craft of James lies in its combination of biting humour and a page-turning plot, with ruminations on sovereignty and Voltaire along the way. Everett stays close, if not true, to the dangerous journeys of Huckleberry Finn, and draws on titans of post-Reconstruction African American writing to bring Jim to the foreground of the story. As we keep pace with our charismatic narrator, Twain’s tale of friendship on the run is converted into a larger history of collective freedom won through close encounters with the great American outdoors and its jealous, violent gatekeepers.
Lara Choksey, Orwell Prize for Political Fiction judge 2024

My Friends

A novel exploring the fallout of the 1984 shootings at the Libyan embassy in London, and its effect on three friends. The quietness of the prose belies the event’s traumatic drama and its profound personal and political repercussions. The style is old fashioned – genteel almost – and authentic to the point of reading like the most exquisite memoir. A warm and extraordinarily clear-sighted novel that is, in part, about the power of the literary word to effect real-world change.


Simon Okotie, Orwell Prize for Political Fiction judge 2024

Ocean Stirrings

Collins fuses history and invention with utmost care and creativity in a book that imagines the thinking, reading, working, politically active lives of the women who came before Malcolm X. Capacious in scope, Ocean Stirrings spans two centuries, taking us from Grenada to Canada to the USA, considering African inheritance and the European power. Yet it’s also a work of stillness and close attention. It makes space for the story of a girl in a Grenadian classroom, reading Byron, reading Cowper, asking questions of the world, given courage by her teachers and her mother to make her own decisions. With a deep sense of purpose and not a hint of literary showiness, Collins brings together many voices, from eighteenth-century English letter-writers to Black rights orators, and she honours the rich Grenadian creole, now largely lost, with a new life here on the page.


Alexandra Harris, Chair of the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction panel 2024


A formal masterpiece, Blackouts creates its own zone beyond the story it tells: a redacted history of queer sexology via an intergenerational deathbed dialogue. This intricate collage of record and remembrance is held together by poetry, art, photography, and institutional documents, and hinges its political world-building on the pleasures to be had in this compilation. In exquisite prose, Torres shows how choosing another inheritance might alter a future that seems inexorable.


Lara Choksey, Orwell Prize for Political Fiction judge 2024

Caledonian Road

Everything is connected in this teeming, gripping, horrifying panorama of British society. In the tradition of Fielding, Dickens, and Orwell himself, the novelist gets everywhere: slipping into the Old Bailey, inviting himself to the polo, sharing a Mayfair magnum while taking notes. And, true to that tradition, Caledonian Road is absolutely contemporary: it gets to work in a world of branding and media spin, of hacking and cover-ups. It asks where the money is coming from, and who knows what, and how chasms of inequality are widening between people passing on the same London pavement.


Alexandra Harris, Chair of the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction panel 2024

Ordinary Human Failings

A novel that handles trauma with honesty and care. There is no sugar-coating with virtue or easy beauty here. This is a story that employs a cleanly cinematic gaze to observe the plain disintegration of a family through a pattern of social circumstance, addiction and prejudice, egged on by the ruthlessness of 90s tabloid journalism – to give us a portrayal of a society both fractured and hopeful.


Ross Raisin, Orwell Prize for Political Fiction judge 2024


An obliquely political and beautifully strange narrative in which the message is never in your face – rather, diffused from above in a way that is at once mesmerizing and troubling. This is a novel that asks questions about an earth lined with its own human markings of war, industry, climate change; written with such a delicate touch that it is only afterwards that you understand the activating power of the book you’ve just held in your hands.


Ross Raisin, Orwell Prize for Political Fiction judge 2024

The Future Future

An exuberant novel about power and how it is exercised, The Future Future provides a historical, anachronism-defying narrative centred on Celine and her intimate friends in revolutionary Paris. Continually shifting registers, it traverses an extraordinary fictional universe that is somehow also grounded, coherent and compelling. At times abstract and philosophical, this acutely observed novel is warm, smart, and (to adopt its own idiom) ‘super contemporary’.


Simon Okotie, Orwell Prize judge 2024

The New Life

Tom Crewe was born in Middlesbrough in 1989. He has a PhD in nineteenth century British history from the University of Cambridge. Since 2015, he has been an editor at the London Review of Books, to which he contributes essays on politics, art, history and fiction. Boyd Tonkin, Chair of Judges, praised how the book:

…re-imagines the lives of the late Victorian writers Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds in the immediate aftermath of the trials and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. The fictionalised characters – John and Henry, and their wives Catherine and Edith – are brought to vivid life by Crewe, who writes about their social, intellectual and erotic lives with extraordinary verisimilitude. Wonderfully precise about things that themselves do not always seem appropriate to precision, the novel considers the similarities between desire and intellectual life, which both risk producing things that may ultimately prove abortive or bathetic. Crewe stays brilliantly faithful to the language, the outlook and the conventions of 1890s London even as he shows, and investigates, the distance between then and now. With compassion, lucidity and poise he explores both the creation of new sexual identities and the nature of social activism, as the ideals of liberation tangle with shame, fear and doubt.”

After Sappho

It’s 1895. Amid laundry and bruises, Rina Pierangeli Faccio gives birth to the child of the man who raped her – and who she has also been forced to marry. Unbroken, she determines to change her name; and her life, alongside it.

1902. Romaine Brooks sails for Capri. She has barely enough money for the ferry, nothing for lunch; her paintbrushes are bald and clotted… But she is sure she can sell a painting – and is fervent in her belief that the island is detached from all fates she has previously suffered.

In 1923, Virginia Woolf writes: I want to make life fuller – and fuller. Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a multitude of voices, After Sappho is Selby Wynn Schwartz’s joyous reimagining of the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th century as they battle for control over their lives; for liberation and for justice.

Sarah Bernhard – Colette – Eleanora Duse – Lina Poletti – Josephine Baker – Virginia Woolf… these are just a few of the women (some famous, others hitherto unsung) sharing the pages of a novel as fierce as it is luminous. Lush and poetic; furious and funny; in After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz has created a novel that celebrates the women and trailblazers of the past and also offers hope for our present, and our futures.

The Story of the Forest

It’s 1913 and a young, carefree and recklessly innocent girl, Mina, goes out into the forest on the edge of the Baltic sea and meets a gang of rowdy young men with revolution on their minds. It sounds like a fairy tale but it’s life.

The adventure leads to flight, emigration and a new land, a new language and the pursuit of idealism or happiness – in Liverpool. But what of the stories from the old country; how do they shape and form the next generations who have heard the well-worn tales?

From the flour mills of Latvia to Liverpool suburbia to post-war Soho, The Story of the Forest is about myths and memory and about how families adapt in order to survive. It is a story full of the humour and wisdom we have come to relish from this wonderful writer.


In Bournville, a placid suburb of Birmingham, sits a famous chocolate factory. For eleven-year-old Mary and her family in 1945, it’s the centre of the world. The reason their streets smell faintly of chocolate, the place where most of their friends and neighbours have worked for decades. Mary will go on to live through the Coronation and the World Cup final, royal weddings and royal funerals, Brexit and Covid-19. She’ll have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Parts of the chocolate factory will be transformed into a theme park, as modern life and the city crowd in on their peaceful enclave.

As we travel through seventy-five years of social change, from James Bond to Princess Diana, and from wartime nostalgia to the World Wide Web, one pressing question starts to emerge: will these changing times bring Mary’s family – and their country – closer together, or leave them more adrift and divided than ever before?

Bournville is a rich and poignant new novel from the bestselling, Costa award-winning author of Middle England. It is the story of a woman, of a nation’s love affair with chocolate, of Britain itself.

Birnam Wood

Birnam Wood is on the move…

Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice, on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.

But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker – or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?

A gripping psychological thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character. A brilliantly constructed consideration of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is an unflinching examination of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.

A House for Alice

After fifty years in the wilderness of London, Alice wants to live out her days in the land of her birth. But her children are divided on whether she stays or goes . . .

In the wake of their father’s death, the imagined stability of the family begins to fray. Meanwhile youngest daughter Melissa has never let go of a love she lost, and Michael in return, even within the sturdy walls of his marriage to the sparkling Nicole, is haunted by the failed perfection of the past. As Alice’s final decision draws closer, all that is hidden between Melissa and her sisters, Michael and Nicole, rises to the surface . . .

Set against the shadows of a city and a country in turmoil, Diana Evans’s ordinary people confront fundamental questions. How should we raise our children? How to do right by our parents? And how, in the midst of everything, can we satisfy ourselves?

Small Worlds

Dancing is the one thing that can solve Stephen’s problems.

At Church with his family, the shimmer of Black hands raised in praise. With his band, making music speaking not just to their hardships, but their joys. Grooving with his best friend, so close their heads might touch. Dancing alone to his father’s records, uncovering parts of a man he has never truly known. His youth, shame and sacrifice.

Stephen has only ever known himself in song. But what becomes of him when the music fades?

Set over the course of three summers, from South London to Ghana and back again, SMALL WORLDS is a novel about the worlds we build for ourselves. The worlds we live, dance and love within.

Demon Copperhead

Demon Copperhead is a once-in-a-generation novel that breaks and mends your heart in the way only the best fiction can.

Demon’s story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking ‘like a little blue prizefighter.’ For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.

In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn’t an idea, it’s as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn’t an abstraction, it’s neighbours, parents, and friends. ‘Family’ could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he’s willing to travel to try and get there.

Suffused with truth, anger and compassion, Demon Copperhead is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between.


“Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going.

The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can’t escape the question: is it time to take it all apart?”

there are more things

there are more things is a novel about two women – Melissa and Catarina.

Born to a well-known political family in Olinda, Brazil, Catarina grows up in the shadow of her dead aunt, Laura. Melissa, a South London native, is brought up by her mum and a crew of rebellious grandmothers.

In January 2016, Melissa and Catarina meet for the first time, and, as political turmoil unfolds across Brazil and the UK, their friendship takes flight. Their story takes us across continents and generations – from the election of Lula to the London riots to the darkest years of Brazil’s military dictatorship.

there are more things builds on the unique voice of Yara’s debut to create a sweeping novel about history, revolution and love. In it we see sisterhood and queerness, and, perhaps, glimpse a better way to live.”