I don’t think that anybody would argue with the statement that news headlines are dominated by bad news, and good stories are far and few between. In light of this statement one should not be surprised to find out that the entire shortlist for The Orwell Prize this year has one thing in common, all are about “dark matters” of the contemporary world. The six shortlisted books deal with the subject of drugs, murder, urban gangs, cyber crime, bloody battles in Afghanistan, and the dark side of the rapid rise of India. It would be very logical to ask why one would want to read books about these subjects particularly since we are constantly bombarded by them. The answer is a simple one; because the subject is only part of the experience. The ambition of The Orwell Prize (which was also the life time aspiration of George Orwell) is ‘to make political writing into an art’ so all of the nominated titles are books that are really well researched, very well written and of course they are very topical too. In the words of the prize’s director Jean Seaton, all six nominations share a few other characteristics, they have “Precision, wit, elegance: important books about important things. Orwell would have devoured all of them.” … still not convinced? Click on any of these titles to read an excerpt and decide for yourself… all that I will say to those of you who still think that they prefer fictional accounts is not to forget the old adage that fact is often stranger than fiction … and we do live in a very complex world.
The winner will be announced on the 23rd of May. Stay tuned.