Friday, 3 July 2009

The Whale wins Samuel Johnson prize

Leviathan, or The Whale by Philip Hoare Leviathan, or The Whale by Philip Hoare has been named the winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2009. Hoare has had a life long obsession with whales inspired by the literary classic Moby Dick. Leviathan is part natural history, part literary criticism, part economics and part memoir but at its heart is the author's lifelong obsession for all things whale. Jacob Weisberg, chairman of the judging panel, predicted that Hoare's genre-defying book would become nothing less than "a classic". He commented: “What made Leviathan stand out in a shortlist of wonderful reads was Philip Hoare’s lifelong passion for his subject and his skill in making his readers share it. His prose is dream-like and rises to the condition of literature.” Hoare's book saw off competition from a shortlist that also included Ben Goldacre's book version of his Guardian column Bad Science which was the favourite to claim the award. The others were Liaquat Ahamed's Lords of Finance, an examination of the Great Depression; David Grann's The Lost City of Z, about the British explorer Percy Fawcett; Richard Holmes's The Age of Wonder and a book praised for making quantum physics accessible and interesting - Manjit Kumar's Quantum.

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