The shortlists for the Orwell Prizes, which aim to ‘make political writing into an art’, have been announced.
Zimbabwean writer Novuyo Rosa Tshuma has been shortlisted for the new Orwell Prize for Political Fiction for her novel House of Stone. She is shortlisted alongside Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns, for Milkman, and Women’s Prize shortlistee Diana Evans, for Ordinary People.
The judges called House of Stone ‘A funny, vivid, deeply serious novel which belies its blithely amoral narrative voice.’
The Orwell Prizes for books and journalism were established in 1994, ‘to encourage writing in good English—while giving equal value to style and content, politics or public policy, whether political, economic, social or cultural—of a kind aimed at or accessible to the reading public, not to specialist or academic audiences.’
In November last year, the award specifically for political fiction was launched, marking seventy years since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The new prize was established to ‘reward outstanding novels and collections of short stories that illuminate major social and political themes, present or past, through the art of narrative’.
- Read: Novuyo Rosa Tshuma and Panashe Chigumadzi in conversation—Meditations on the traumas and triumphs of Zimbabwe’s histories
The winners of both the Orwell Prize for Political Writing and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, which are worth £3,000 each, will be unveiled on George Orwell’s birthday, Tuesday 25 June 2019, at University College London, together with the winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism and the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils.
2019 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction shortlist
- Glen James Brown, Ironopolis, Parthian Books
- Anna Burns, Milkman, Faber & Faber
- Diana Evans, Ordinary People, Chatto & Windus
- Nick Drnaso, Sabrina, Granta
- Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, House of Stone, Atlantic Fiction
- Leni Zumas, Red Clocks, The Borough Press
The judges for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing are broadcaster Tom Sutcliffe (chair); Sam Leith, literary editor of The Spectator; Desmond Elliott Prize-winning author Preti Taneja; and Xine Yao, lecturer in American Literature at University College London.
Chair of judges Tom Sutcliffe said:
I think we’ve produced an excellent shortlist which demonstrates the great range political fiction can have—from sharply polemical works with a clear campaigning spirit to books in which the politics work on you almost without your knowledge. We tend to assume that serious political intent has to be at odds with reading pleasure and entertainment; all these books prove that that needn’t necessarily be the case.
2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing (previously, ‘Orwell Prize for Books’)
- Oliver Bullough, Moneyland, Profile Books
- Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River, Bodley Head
- Norah Krug, Heimat: A German Family Album, Particular Books
- David Pilling, The Growth Delusion, Bloomsbury Publishing
- Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, William Collins
- Alpa Shah, Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas, Hurst Publishers
The judges for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing are Tulip Siddiq MP (chair); Ted Hodgkinson, Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre; Robbie Millen, literary editor at The Times; and Helen Pankhurst, author, women’s rights activist and international development practitioner.