Wednesday 24 March 2010
- 18-strong book longlist includes fiction debuts, Harare North and Elegy for Easterly
- Journalism and Blog Prize longlists expanded from 12 to 14 due to high quality of entries
- Blog Prize longlist includes pseudonymous policewoman PC Bloggs and social worker Winston Smith
The longlists for the Orwell Prize 2010, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, were announced at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival this evening, Wednesday 24th March at 7.30pm. Administrator of the Prize, Gavin Freeguard, revealed the 18 books, 14 journalists (instead of the usual 12) and 14 bloggers (instead of the usual 12) still in contention for the £3000 prizes during the Prize’s week of political events at the Festival.
Owing to the high quality of entries, the Blog Prize judges opted to longlist 14 bloggers rather than the traditional 12: David Osler Dave’s Part (www.davidosler.com) David Smith Letter from Africa (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/david-smiths-letter-from-africa) Gideon Rachman rachmanblog (http://blogs.ft.com/rachmanblog/) Hopi Sen Hopi Sen (http://hopisen.wordpress.com) Iain Dale Iain Dale’s Diary (http://iaindale.blogspot.com) Jack of Kent Jack of Kent (http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/) Laurie Penny Penny Red and others (http://pennyred.blogspot.com) Madam Miaow Madam Miaow Says (http://madammiaow.blogspot.com/) Mary Beard A Don’s Life (http://timesonline.typepad.com/dons_life/) Morus PoliticalBetting.com; Daily Kos (http://politicalbetting.com; http://www.dailykos.com) PC Ellie Bloggs A Twenty-First Century Police Officer (http://pcbloggs.blogspot.com) ray The Bad Old Days Will End (http://thebadolddayswillend.blogspot.com) Tim Marshall Foreign Matters (http://blogs.news.sky.com/foreignmatters) Winston Smith Working with the Underclass (http://winstonsmith33.blogspot.com) Following last year’s Blog Prize victory for secret policeman Jack Night, two pseudonymous public servants have been longlisted for this year’s Prize – policewoman, PC Ellie Bloggs and social worker, Winston Smith. As last year, a number of mainstream journalists (The Guardian’s David Smith, the FT’s Gideon Rachman and Sky News’ Tim Marshall) make the list. Only Hopi Sen and Iain Dale appear on the longlist for a second year. This year’s Blog Prize judges are Richard Horton (‘Jack Night’, winner of the Orwell Prize for Blogs 2009) and Oona King (head of diversity for Channel 4, former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow). 164 bloggers entered. Director of the Orwell Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘Blogs have very quickly grown up into things you have to take a look at, something you can’t afford to miss or be without. The very best blogs have a distinct individual voice, far from the shouty stereotype. What is especially remarkable – as evidenced by PC Bloggs, Winston Smith, Mary Beard, Jack of Kent and of course Jack Night – is how blogging is becoming a professional forum, doing a really healthy job of explaining the internal dilemmas of professions to bigger audiences. No other medium communicates this quite so well.’
The Book Prize longlist comprises: Beckett, Andy When the Lights Went Out Faber Chikwava, Brian Harare North Jonathan Cape Cohen, Nick Waiting for the Etonians Fourth Estate De Bellaigue, Christopher Rebel Land Bloomsbury Edwards, Ruth Dudley Aftermath Harvill Secker Gappah, Petina An Elegy for Easterly Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux Gardner, David Last Chance I. B. Tauris Gillies, Andrea Keeper Short Books Hunt, Tristram The Frock-Coated Communist Allen Lane Kampfner, John Freedom for Sale Simon & Schuster Malik, Kenan From Fatwa to Jihad Atlantic Books Maric, Vesna Bluebird: A Memoir Granta Books O’Toole, Fintan Ship of Fools Faber Peel, Michael A Swamp Full of Dollars I. B. Tauris Wheeler, Sara The Magnetic North Jonathan Cape Wilkinson, Richard & Pickett, Kate The Spirit Level Allen Lane Wilson, Ben What Price Liberty? Faber Wrong, Michela It’s Our Turn to Eat Fourth Estate In a typically wide-ranging selection, covering subjects from African corruption to Alzheimer’s and Engels to Ireland, first books made a strong showing (Harare North, An Elegy for Easterly, Last Chance, Keeper, Bluebird: A Memoir and A Swamp Full of Dollars). Nick Cohen (previously shortlisted for What’s Left? in 2008) and Michela Wrong (shortlisted for both of her previous books, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the Congo and I Didn’t Do It For You: How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation) also make the list. All four titles entered by Faber for this year’s Prize made the longlist, along with one from last year’s winning publisher, Granta (Vesna Maric’s Bluebird: A Memoir). The judges also made special mention of Zuhair Al-Jezairy’s The Devil You Don’t Know: Going Back to Iraq (Saqi Books). Although the title had been published first in the UK, it was in translation and therefore not felt to be fully in the spirit of the rules. This year’s Book Prize judges are Jonathan Heawood (Director, English PEN), Andrew Holgate (Literary Editor, Sunday Times) and Francine Stock (writer and broadcaster). 212 books were entered. Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘The books this year were very strong on people who have known what they’re writing about for a very long time; the books were well-cooked. Many of them are very British – even when writing about foreign places at a time when what ‘Britishness’ means is a problem, there was a systematic scepticism which is very much in the Orwellian tradition.’
Owing to the high quality of entries, the Journalism Prize judges opted to longlist 14 entries rather than the usual 12: Arlidge, John The Sunday Times (Magazine; News Review) Cobain, Ian The Guardian; G2 Foreman, Jonathan Standpoint Gentleman, Amelia The Guardian (G2) Hitchens, Peter Mail on Sunday Lewis, Paul The Guardian Loyd, Anthony Standpoint; The Times McRae, Hamish The Independent Newman, Cathy Channel 4 News Ostrovsky, Arkady The Economist; Foreign Policy Philp, Catherine The Times Reynolds, David BBC (Radio 4, News online) Riddell, Mary Daily Telegraph Verkaik, Robert The Independent; The Independent on Sunday This year’s longlist shows a distinct trend towards reportage and investigative journalism, notable scoops including Ian Cobain on torture, Paul Lewis on policing and the G20 and Cathy Newman with various UK politics stories. Peter Hitchens is longlisted for the third time in four years, while The Economist’s Moscow Bureau Chief, Arkady Ostrovsky, is longlisted for a second consecutive year. Mary Riddell was previously shortlisted in 2008. This year’s Journalism Prize judges are Roger Graef (writer, filmmaker, criminologist) and Peter Kellner (journalist, President of YouGov). 85 journalism entries were received. Director of the Orwell Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘In the middle of a period when journalism is under pressure and there is gloom about the future, the extraordinary investigative bite of a very large number of journalists is something to be cherished. Journalism may be under pressure, but the Prize shows democratically important journalism is being done.’
Shortlist and winners
This year’s shortlists, of six in each category, will be announced at Thomson Reuters, Canary Wharf on Thursday 15th April at 7pm. The announcement will be followed by a debate entitled ‘have the political classes been fatally weakened?’ This year’s winners will be announced at a ceremony at Church House, Westminster on 19th May.