Friday, 30 April 2010

Longlist for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction announced

When Skateboards will be FreeThe longlist for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction was recently announced and is as eclectic as usual in the range of subjects covered and in its global reach. The 19-strong list for the £20,000 non-fiction prize has moved away from the traditional biography and science-dominated lists of previous years to take on a more international perspective. Featuring books on subjects as diverse as skateboarding and the British road system, the list has been described by BBC presenter Evan Davis, who is chairing this year's judges, as an "unusual and eclectic longlist of terrific books". He added: "It is particularly gratifying that our selection demonstrates the worldliness of good non-fiction writing, with books that take us from China and India, to Africa and the Arctic."

The list features books by both established and first-time authors. One of the four first-time authors nominated is Said Sayrafiezadeh for his memoir of a surreal childhood in the Socialist Workers Party, When Skateboards will be Free. Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple, internationally acclaimed writer of travel books, has also been selected. It is joined by The Music Instinct by Philip Ball - a study of the brain's response to Lady Gaga and Bach - and Catching Fire, which examines cooking's role in evolution. The BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction is the richest non fiction prize in the UK, worth £20,000 to the winner. The prize aims to reward the best of non-fiction and is open to authors of all non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

The shortlist of six titles will be announced in late May and the winner in July. Last year's prize was won by Philip Hoare's Leviathan, a study of whales, with previous winners including Kate Summerscale, Antony Beevor and Jonathan Coe. For the full longlist see

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