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The 2011 Warwick Prize for Writing Announces Colourful Longlist

  • International fiction and non-fiction titles battle to win £50,000 prize
  • Professors and scientists compete against six novelists and two poets

The Warwick Prize for Writing, a unique prize launched in 2009, today announces a longlist which includes anthropologists and chemists challenging novelists and poets for the coveted prize of £50,000.

This biennial prize, run by the University of Warwick, stands out as an international cross-disciplinary award open to substantial pieces of writing in the English language, in any genre or form. The theme for the 2011 prize is ‘Colour’.

The eleven longlisted titles comprise six non-fiction, three fiction and two poetry books. From ancient Rome and apartheid South Africa to the aftermath of civil war in Sierra Leone and the cultural history of London, the entries highlight the prize’s diversity and international scope.

Nominees include a 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature winner (Derek Walcott), a Samuel Johnson Prize runner-up (Aminatta Forna) and a winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Iain Sinclair).

Encompassing a comprehensive list of titles, the fiction submissions include Shades of Grey, British novelist Jasper Fforde’s depiction of a faintly recognisable, post-apocalyptic Britain and The Wasted Vigil, Nadeem Aslam’s lyrically written novel about contemporary Afghanistan and its recent conflicts. Non-fiction works range from Canadian poet Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip, through Australian-born anthropologist Michael Taussig’s What Color is the Sacred? to historian Peter D. McDonald’s The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and its Cultural Consequences.

The judging panel for the prize is chaired by Michael Rosen, broadcaster, children's novelist, poet and the author of 140 books. He is joined on the panel by The Times Literary Editor Erica Wagner; Crossbench peer Lola Young; Author and Editorial Director of Chatto & Windus Jenny Uglow and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick Professor Nigel Thrift.

Michael Rosen comments: "This is a wide-ranging, fascinating list of books covering the genres of poetry, non-fiction and fiction with a hybrid or two thrown in all of which can be viewed through the lens of the word 'colour'. This makes the Warwick Prize unique in the world of literary prizes in that inevitably the award is not directly about, say, good stories or original research but about that intangible quality: great writing. Looking across this list, we have a group of top-notch contenders. And that's the challenge for us!”

Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said: “I’m delighted to see that the international appeal of this literary award has spanned three continents this year resulting in a diverse and intriguing selection of books. This creates a rather challenging but thoroughly enjoyable task and I’m very pleased to be part of the judging process.”

A shortlist of six titles will be announced early in 2011 and the winner will be announced in London on 22 March 2011.

Find out more about the longlisted books and authors here

The longlist of eleven titles is as follows:

The Wasted Vigil
Nadeem Aslam
Faber & Faber
Colour and Meaning in Ancient Rome
Mark Bradley
Cambridge University Press
Shades of Grey
Jasper Fforde
Hodder & Stoughton
Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage
Peter Forbes
Yale University Press
The Memory of Love
Aminatta Forna
The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and its Cultural Consequences
Peter D McDonald
Oxford University Press
Molotov’s Magic Lantern
Rachel Polonsky
Faber & Faber
Magenta Soul Whip
Lisa Robertson
Coach House Books
Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire
Iain Sinclair
Hamish Hamilton
What Color is the Sacred?
Michael Taussig
White Egrets
Derek Walcott
Faber & Faber