George Orwell’s legacy: Orwell Prize longlist announced

Share via

The longlist for the Orwell Prize, Britain’s prestigious award for political writing, was announced Wednesday. Fourteen journalists and 12 books are in the running for investigations on subjects including Starbucks, torture, death row and the lives of the super-rich.

The prize is awarded in two categories -- books and journalism -- for works that reflect George Orwell’s ambition to “make political writing into an art.” This means, as was established by prize founder Sir Bernard Crick in 1994, that equal value is given to style and content. As book prize judge Arifa Akbar wrote in the Independent of this year’s process: “I came across those campaigning books intent on exposing a lie or revealing a truth, and also those ‘writerly’ ones that could shape a sentence beautifully. The challenge was to find these two qualities in the same book.”

This year’s book prize finalists include Richard Holloway’s memoir of doubt and faith, “Leaving Alexandria”; A.T. Williams’ forensic study of Baha Mousa’s death while under arrest in Iraq, “A Very British Killing”; and Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Pharma,” a shocking expose of the pharmaceutical industry. Also shortlisted is Pankaj Mishra’s “From the Ruins of Empire,” a portrait of thinkers who have shaped China, India, and the Muslim world. The complete longlist of books is below.


The journalism prize longlist was selected from a record-breaking 155 entries, and includes Ian Cobain of the Guardian, John Arlidge for reporting in the Sunday Times, and Christina Patterson of the Independent. In all, 12 publications are represented. “Anybody reading newspapers this last year would think that British journalism was in a parlous state,” Director of the Prize Jean Seaton said in the release, “but the entries for the Orwell Prize tell a different story. The entries were a stunning display of professional investigative brilliance.”

The shortlist will be announced on April 17, following which the Orwell Prize will host a debate on Burma and the question, “When censorship declines, does freedom emerge?” in keeping with its mission to encourage political argument around the world. Orwell Prize winners will be announced on May 15 at an awards ceremony in London.

The longlisted books:

“Burying the Typewriter” by Carmen Bugan
“On the Front Line” by Marie Colvin
“Plutocrats” by Chrystia Freeland
“Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre
“El Narco” by Ioan Grillo
“Leaving Alexandria” by Richard Holloway
“From the Ruins of the Empire” Pankaj Mishra
“The Spanish Holocaust” by Paul Preston
“Occupation Diaries” by Raja Shehadeh
“Injustice” by Clive Stafford Smith
“Bloody Nasty People” by Daniel Trilling
“A Very British Killing” by A. T. Williams


Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, for $100,000, to go to Marie Ponsot

Is Barack Obama a Marxist? A reading list for Pat Boone


On Iraq War anniversary, Condoleezza Rice announces a book