Friday 17 October 2014

2014 Samuel Johnson Prize Shortlist announced

Six titles have been shortlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. The winner of the award worth £20,000 will be announced on November 4th. There are two memoirs on the shortlist. Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk tells of how she trained a goshawk, and Marion Coutts’ humane account of her husband's loss of speech and death from a brain tumour is recounted in The Iceberg. Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead tells the story of how villagers in France’s Massif Central mountains saved thousands of people from concentration camps during the Nazi occupation. The Empire of Necessity is an account of how slaves on board a 19th-century ship rose up and slaughtered most of the crew. The final two books on the shortlist are John Campbell’s A Well-Rounded Life, a biography of politician Roy Jenkins, and Alison Light’s Common People, an exploration of her family through generations of obscurity and poverty.

Historian Ruth Scurr of the judging panel said “It has been a very uplifting experience to read these books. Even the straight historical narrative books on the list are as compelling as the best novels.” Lucy Hughes-Hallett won last year’s prize for her book The Pike, a portrait of the Italian Fascist poet Gabriele D’Annunzio.

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