Rolling in his grave? Thatcher bio shortlisted for Orwell Prize
Charles Moore’s authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the great heroine of conservative Britain, has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, which is named for a great hero of that country’s left.
The Orwell Prize, named for “1984" author George Orwell, is awarded in Britain for political writing of outstanding literary merit. Other books on the shortlist include a memoir by Alan Johnson, a leader of the Labour Party, and David Goodhart’s “The British Dream,” which says immigration is undermining the country.
Over at the Independent, commentator Conrad Landin said that “Orwell would have cutting words about a prize for daring polemic heaping laurels on establishment figures who write about fashionable establishment subjects.”
The prize failed to recognize any brave, critical voices, Landin said, who threw in an Orwell quote for good measure: “Any writer or journalist who wants to retain his integrity finds himself thwarted by the general drift of society rather than by active persecution.”
Prize director Jean Seaton came to the defense of the Thatcher biography, and discounted the notion that Orwell would be “turning in his grave.”
“I think he would say that the book is incredibly adept and sharp and astute about her,” Seaton told the Guardian. “Personally I think it is an extraordinary book, a psychological insight into her, although just at the end he arrives on the side of her politics.”
Rounding out the shortlist are James Fergusson’s look at Somalia, “The World’s Most Dangerous Place”; “Coolie Woman,” Gaiutra Bahadur’s account of her great-grandmother, a pregnant woman who sailed from India to Guyana as an indentured laborer, or “coolie,” in 1903; and Frank Dikötter’s “The Tragedy of Liberation,” a history of the Chinese revolution.
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