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Warwick Prize for Writing - longlist announced

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.

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The longlist of eleven titles is as follows:

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

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For further information on The Warwick Prize for Writing please contact:

Catherine Duncan or Ruth Cairns at Colman Getty
Tel: 020 7631 2666  Fax: 020 7631 2699
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For further information on the University of Warwick please contact:

Kate Cox, Communications Manager at the University of Warwick
Tel:  02476 574255 or 07920 531221