• The shortlists of seven books and six journalists expose grooming, torture and taxes; they probe the state of the NHS and the church; reporting the front line from Iran in the eighties to Aleppo now
• Winners of £3,000 prizes for the 20th annual Orwell Prize to be announced on 15th May
• Shortlists revealed at Burma themed debate; When censorship declines does freedom emerge?
The shortlists for this year’s Orwell Prize – Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing – have been announced today, Wednesday 17th April, at the University of Westminster, Regents Street. The Prize is sponsored and supported by the Media Standards Trust, Political Quarterly, AM Heath and Richard Blair (Orwell’s son).
The shortlist announcements (from 6.30pm) were followed by the annual shortlist debate, this time a Burma themed discussion; When censorship declines does freedom emerge? The debate featured Julia Farringdon (Index on Censorship), Nita May OBE (BBC World Service) and Tayzar Moe Myint (former PoW). Jean Seaton (Director of The Orwell Prize) announced the shortlist and chaired the debate.
The shortlisting narrows 210 books down to seven. This year’s book judges are Nikita Lalwani (Desmond Elliot award-winning author), Arifa Akbar (assistant books editor, The Independent) and Baroness Joan Bakewell (Labour Party life peer, broadcaster and writer).
The shortlisted books are:
Carmen Bugan Burying the Typewriter (Picador)
Marie Colvin On the Front Line (HarperPress)
Richard Holloway Leaving Alexandria (Canongate Books)
Pankaj Mishra From the Ruins of the Empire (Allen Lane)
Raja Shehadeh Occupation Diaries (Profile Books)
Clive Stafford Smith Injustice (Harvill Secker)
A. T. Williams A Very British Killing (Jonathan Cape)
Raja Shehadeh won The Orwell Prize for Books in 2008 with Palestinian Walks, the same year that Clive Stafford Smith was previously shortlisted for Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and the Secret Prisons.
Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: This year’s judges started from Orwell’s injunction, ‘My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice.’ That is what the judges hunted for and found, writing that was measured and calm not simply angry. Writing that is nevertheless driven by values.
The six top journalists from 155 entries were chosen by Jo Glanville (Director of English PEN), Nicholas Timmins (former Public Policy Editor of the Financial Times) and Chris Mullin (author, journalist and former MP).
The shortlisted journalists are:
Jamil Anderlini Financial Times
Tom Bergin Reuters
Ian Cobain Guardian
Andrew Norfolk The Times
Christina Patterson The Independent
Kim Sengupta The Independent
Four of the six journalists shortlisted are first time entrants.
Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: This shortlist is a testament to the determination, authority and brilliance of much British journalism. It is also a testament to the intelligence and implacable public service of the best editors who have helped support this journalism. Important stories told with clarity, and sometimes grace, have made our society immeasurably better.
The winners of the Orwell Prizes – each worth £3000 – will be announced at an awards ceremony at Church House, Westminster, on Wednesday 15th May, 6.30 for 7pm.
Notes to editors
1. The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. Every year, prizes are awarded to the work – for the book, for the journalism and for the blog – which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Each Prize is worth £3000.
2. The Prize was founded by the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick in its present form in 1993, awarding its first prizes in 1994. The Media Standards Trust, Political Quarterly and Orwell Trust are partners in running the Prize, through the Council of the Orwell Prize. Richard Blair (Orwell’s son) and A. M. Heath.
3. For further information, please contact the Operations Manager, Katriona Lewis at email@example.com or 0207 229 5722.