The Politics of Fiction: Three years of reading Political Fiction at UCL

Tuesday 04 May 2021 @ 13:00 - 14:30


This special one-off event forms part of the IAS five-year anniversary festival on the theme of ‘Alternative Epistemologies’, which also marks the five-year anniversary of The Orwell Foundation’s arrival at UCL.

As Orwell wrote, politics is implicit in all writing, fictional and not. However, if novelists and short-story writers bring explicitly political issues to the fore in their work, they are at risk of writing manifestos or tracts, or tying their narrative to too narrow a set of concerns. How can a writer ask political questions, or, even harder, try to explore some answers, without stamping all over their story? Is the political novel a tautology, or an oxymoron?

The judges of the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, including, each year, a member of UCL’s Department of English, are asked to consider these questions while reading dozens of novels in their pursuit to find the work of fiction which best, in George Orwell’s phrase, makes ‘political writing into an art’. At this event current judge Mark Ford will be hoping to get some guidance on the above from former judges Matthew Sperling and Xine Yao.

All welcome: registration, more information and FAQs are available on the IAS booking page below, and all enquiries should be directed to the IAS festival team.

This year’s Orwell Prize for Political Fiction longlist was announced on Friday 9th April: discover the full list. Previous Political Fiction winners include The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2020) and Milkman by Anna Burns (2019).

Book event