Introducing the Finalists for The Orwell Prize 2023

Thursday 11 May 2023

The finalists for the 2023 Orwell Prizes were announced today, with forty-five outstanding works of non-fiction, fiction and reporting nominated across five categories, including the new Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness, sponsored by the Centre for Homelessness Impact.

The full lists are published below with comment from our judges, while you can read more about all the finalists on the Orwell Foundation website. Readers can also try an exclusive extract from each of the nominated books through Exact Editions, here.

The Orwell Festival – the Orwell Foundation’s annual celebration of the most important and imaginative writing and reporting – kicks off in Bloomsbury and online, on 6th June, with a number of finalists making an appearance alongside special guests including Succession’s Jesse Armstrong. The full schedule and booking can be found on the Orwell Festival website.

We would like to express our gratitude to our core sponsor Political Quarterly, Prize sponsors the Centre for Homelessness Impact and A. M. Heath and our founder Patron, Richard Blair, for making these awards possible for another year. Find out more about how you can join them in supporting our work by becoming a Friend or Patron here.

The winners of the 2023 Orwell Prizes will be revealed at the Prize Ceremony in central London on 22nd June 2023.


Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2023 

Show Me the Bodies: How We Let Grenfell Happen by Peter Apps (Oneworld)

Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes (Swift Press)

Invasion: Russia’s Bloody War and Ukraine’s Fight for Survival by Luke Harding (Faber)

Who Cares?: The Hidden Crisis of Caregiving, and How We Solve It by Emily Kenway (Headline)

Inside Qatar: Hidden Stories from One of the Richest Nations on Earth by John McManus (Icon)

The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule by Angela Saini (HarperCollins)

The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain’s Colonial Legacy by Phillipe Sands (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

Divided: Racism, Medicine and Why We Need to Decolonise Healthcare by Annabel Sowemimo (Wellcome Collection)

Fire of the Dragon: China’s New Cold War by Ian Williams (Birlinn)


Martha Lane Fox, chair of judges for The Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2023, said:

In Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Winston Smith observes that “the best books… are those that tell you what you know already”. I respectfully disagree. I defy anyone not to learn something new from the shortlisted books this year. The range and depth of the subjects reveal what strange and complex times we live in, while the clarity of the storytelling helps us understand so much more about some of the challenges we face, from geopolitics and the overcoming of historical inequalities, to the future of health and care. These books will move you, inform you and help you to make sense of what’s going on around you.”


The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2023

Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson (Viking)

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Granta)

Bournville by Jonathan Coe (Viking)

The New Life by Tom Crewe (Chatto and Windus)

A House for Alice by Diana Evans (Chatto and Windus)

The Story of the Forest by Linda Grant (Virago)

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber)

After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz (Galley Beggar)


Boyd Tonkin, chair of judges for The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2023, said:

This is a list of finalists packed with vital, urgent stories delivered by hugely gifted storytellers. The eight novels we have chosen encompass the political life of people in society on many levels, and from many angles. From quests for sexual and emotional freedom, and the struggle for true fulfilment against daily prejudice and injustice, to the abuse of corporate power and the fate of the embattled Earth itself, their authors confront the deepest fears and hopes that drive individuals and communities today. They do so, just as George Orwell would have wished, not by preaching, lecturing or veiled propaganda but in engrossing narratives full of wonder, surprise, delight, tragedy and comedy. We hope that you read, and enjoy, all of them.”


The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness 2023, sponsored by the Centre for Homelessness Impact

Read, listen to and watch this year’s finalists

Carolyn Atkinson (BBC Woman’s Hour & You and Yours)

Lucy Campbell (Single Homeless Project)

Daniel Hewitt (ITV News)

Daniel Lavelle (The Guardian)

Freya Marshall Payne (The Guardian, new writing)

Zohra Naciri (new writing)

Jack Simpson (Inside Housing)

Vicky Spratt (The i paper)

Daniel Trilling (Prospect)


Alan Rusbridger, chair of judges for The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness 2023, said:

Some of Orwell’s most vivid and impactful writing was on the theme of homelessness, hence this year’s decision to add a new category. We were so impressed by the quality and quantity of the entries, which collectively told a depressing and shaming story about a crisis in towns and cities across the country. The shortlisted entries span memoir, reporting, video, audio, data, academic research, stories of lived experience and more. Though the overall picture they describe is often a harrowing one it is heartening that so many writers, researchers and journalists remain doggedly committed to documenting the crisis so tellingly.”


The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023

Paul Caruana Galizia & Katie Gunning (Tortoise Media)

Isobel Cockerell (Coda Story & Audible)

Helen Lewis (BBC R4 & The Atlantic)

Yogita Limaye with Imogen Anderson, Sanjay Ganguly and Malik Mudassir Hassan (BBC News)

Sean Morrison (The Bristol Cable)

Madeleine Schwartz (The London Review of Books)

Quentin Sommerville (BBC News)

Wendell Steavenson (1843 Magazine)

Gary Younge (The Guardian, The New Statesman, We Are Unedited)


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, chair of judges for The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023, commented:

This shortlist for the Orwell Prize for Journalism, proves that excellent print and broadcast journalism lives on and continues to be a vital force in our democracy. Diverse voices from across the political spectrum cover foreign and domestic themes with passion and authority. Some give fresh perspectives on subjects that have long been in the public domain while others bring to light under-reported stories with extraordinary urgency. Orwell wrote lucid prose, opposed totalitarianism and exposed economic and imperial injustices. The journalists on this shortlist use precise and evocative language and tackle a wide range of subjects from the war in Ukraine to urban poverty and racism. His spirit lives on.”


The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils 2023

Sanchia Berg & Katie Inman (BBC News)

Shanti Das (The Observer)

Craig Easton (The Guardian, FT Magazine, BBC R4, i-D)

Liberty Investigates: Mirren Gidda, Jessica Purkiss, Eleanor Rose, Aaron Walawalkar (gal-dem, ITV News, The Observer)

Dean Kirby (The i paper)

John Phipps (The Economist)

Maeve Shearlaw & Christopher Cherry (The Guardian)

Noel Titheradge (BBC News)

Stephen Topping (Manchester Evening News)

Mark Townsend (The Observer)


Ed Thomas, 2023 Judge and 2022 Winner of The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils commented:

This year’s shortlist for exposing Britain’s Social Evil’s is testament to fearless reporting crafted with care and compassion. All the entries shine a light in the darkest of places, giving a voice to the most vulnerable of people in our society, failed by institutions and struggling to be heard. In the tradition of Orwell, this is journalism that compels us to look again, and ask searching questions about the reality of life for so many in Britain today.”


For further information and images please contact James Tookey (The Orwell Prize for Political Writing & The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction) or Alice Adonis (Journalism, Social Evils and Reporting Homelessness).