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The £50,000 Warwick Prize for Writing Announces ‘Complex’ Longlist

The Warwick Prize for Writing today announces a longlist which is set to redefine traditional forms of writing. For the first time, political scientists will compete against novelists, mathematicians against poets and economists against historians.

The £50, 000 inaugural prize, run by the University of Warwick, stands out as an international cross-disciplinary biennial award open to substantial pieces of writing in the English language, in any genre or form. The theme for the 2009 prize is ‘Complexity’.

The longlist consists of 20 titles, 12 non-fiction and eight fiction. Topics vary widely and include politics, maths, economics, global warming, slavery, nature, music, science fiction and poetry.

The longlist features a 2008 Pulitzer Prize and BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize finalist (New Yorker music critic Alex Ross), the 2008 British Science Fiction Association winner (Ian Mcdonald) and a 2008 Man Booker Prize longlisted author (Joseph O’Neill).

Non-fiction entries range from Portrait with Keys, Croatian-born Ivan Vladislavic’s depiction of modern South Africa to The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, award-winning Canadian journalist Naomi Klein’s critique of the global ‘free market’. Fiction works include American poet Rachel Blau Dupleissis’ long poem project Torques: Drafts 58-76 and first time novelist Thomas Legendre’s The Burning.

International entries include writers from Croatia, America, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland, Spain and Columbia.

The judging panel for the prize is chaired by China Miéville, award-winning ‘weird fiction’ writer. Judges include journalist Maya Jaggi; novelist, translator and academic Maureen Freely; Britain’s first book blogger Stephen Mitchelmore and University of Warwick mathematician Professor Ian Stewart.

China Miéville comments: "The style, form, genre and content of the works on the list is incredibly varied; the quality is anything but. Getting from this longlist to a shortlist, let alone a winner, will demand exactly the kind of open-minded and argumentative reading the prize is designed for, and, we hope, start many conversations about literature."

The Tiger That Isn’t, an investigation into political misuse of mathematical statistics, is the only co-authored piece amongst the list, written by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, the creator and presenter behind BBC Radio 4’s More or Less.

A shortlist of six titles will be announced on 23 January 2009. The winner will be announced on 24 February 2009 at the University of Warwick.

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The longlist of 20 titles is as follows:

Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 By Lisa Appignanes published by Virago Non-Fiction

The Tiger That Isn’t by Michael Blastland & Andrew Dilnot Published by Profile Books Non-Fiction

Torques: Drafts 58-76 by Rachel Blau Duplessis Published by Salt Publishing Poetry

Glister by John Burnside Published by Jonathan Cape Random House Fiction

Planet of Slums by Mike Davies Published by Verso Non-Fiction

The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed Bishop Gerardi? By Francisco Goldman published by Atlantic Books Non-Fiction

Someone Else by John Hughes Published by Giramondo Publishing Company Fiction

Reinventing the Sacred Stuart A Kauffman Perseus - Published by Basic Books Non-Fiction

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein Published by Penguin Non-Fiction

The Burning by Thomas Legendre Published by Abacus Little, Brown Book Group Fiction

Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion and the Politics of Human Origins by David Livingstone Published by Johns Hopkins University Press Non-Fiction

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane Published by Granta Books Non-Fiction

The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin Published by Eden Project Transworld Publishers Non-Fiction

Brasyl by Ian McDonald Published by Gollancz, Orion Fiction

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill Published by 4th Estate, Harper Collins Fiction

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross Published by 4th Estate,  published by Harper Collins Non-Fiction

The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (translator: Anne McLean)Published by Bloomsbury Fiction

Montano's Malady by Enrique Vila-Matas (translator: Jonathan Dunne) Published by New Directions Fiction

Portrait with Keys by Ivan Vladislavic Published by Portobello Books Non-Fiction

The Trader the Owner the Slave by James Walvin Published by Jonathan Cape Random House Non-Fiction

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager at the University of Warwick
Tel: 02476 523708 or 07767 655860

Elise Oliver or Ruth Cairns at Colman Getty
Tel: 020 7631 2666 Fax: 020 7631 2699
Email: or

Notes to Editors

• The University of Warwick is one of the UK’s leading research universities. Consistently ranked in the top 10 of all the University league tables produced by UK national newspapers and ranked 5th among the UK's 100 universities for quality of research (Funding Councils' Research Assessment Exercise, 2001); over 91% of academic staff in departments with top research ratings of 5 or 5*

• The £50,000 Warwick Prize is entirely self-funded by the University of Warwick. The University is able to make such an investment as it generates 63% of its own income

• The Warwick Prize for Writing is an innovative new literature prize that involves global competition, and crosses all disciplines. The Prize will be given biennially for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language, in any genre or form, on a theme which will change with every award

• A shortlist of six titles will be announced in January 2009. The winner will be announced in February 2009 at the University of Warwick. In addition to the £50,000 monetary prize, the winning author will be awarded the opportunity to take up a short placement at the University of Warwick

• Submissions may be translations of a work first published in another language. If so, the submission must be the first English translation and must have appeared for the first time within the stated prize period. The prize for such a work will be divided between the original author and the translator in the ratio 70:30

• Maureen Freely has replaced poet Jackie Kay on the judging panel for the prize