The UK’s most prestigious non-fiction award, the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction announced its longlist on 2nd September. The prize is worth £20,000 and aims to reward the best of non-fiction. It’s open to authors of all non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.
Memoirs feature strongly with the personal experiences of John Carey, Marion Coutts, Helen Macdonald, Henry Marsh, Jonathan Meades and Ben Watt accounting for six of the 15 chosen titles. Five titles on the longlist are concerned with history and there’s just one biography – John Campbell’s study of politician Roy Jenkins.
Claire Tomalin chairs the judges with Alan Johnson MP, Financial Times books editor Lorien Kite, philosopher Ray Monk and historian Ruth Scurr on the panel.
The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 9 October and the winner on Tuesday 4 November.
Current 3/1 favourite is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – ‘The record of a spiritual journey – an unflinchingly honest account of the author’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming.’
The Mighty Dead: Why Homer matters by Adam Nicolson ( 5* rating from a Leeds reader)
Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead
In These Times by Jenny Uglow – on order
Romany and Tom: A memoir by Ben Watt