Longlist announced for The 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
The longlist for the £30,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, which celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, is announced today.
The ten titles on this year’s longlist are:
The titles chosen by the judges span the breadth of non-fiction writing, from literary biography and history to journalism and popular science.
The longlist offers bold and original accounts of familiar periods: Simon Ings’s Stalin and the Scientists studies Soviet scientific experimentation, while Philippe Sands’ East West Street, chronicles the origins of international law, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial.
This theme continues in Second-hand Time by Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, which shines new light on life in the USSR through a collage of individual voices. Individual testimony is also at the heart of Ben Judah’s This is London, an investigation of a changing city through a series of portraits of its immigrant population.
Journeys also feature heavily on the longlist: Hisham Matar’s The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, finds its author in pursuit of lost fathers, while Laura Cumming searches for the elusive painter Diego Velázquez in The Vanishing Man.
The longlist features two titles that in different ways contend with what it means to be human. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene is an epic history of life’s master-code, while Charles Foster chronicles the weeks he spent living as animals do in Being a Beast.
Biography and memoir are also represented. Margo Jefferson’s Negroland: A Memoir is an account of the black middle class experience in 1960s Chicago, while Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey by Frances Wilson, describes the turbulent life of an enigmatic essayist.
Stephanie Flanders, Chair of the Judges, comments:
“Shortly after committing to judge this award I found I had an overwhelming – and deeply unhelpful – urge to read fiction. But each of these ten very different books takes you on a journey that is as engrossing and imaginative as any novel. They aim high, and deliver. I am not looking forward to having to choose between them.”
The longlist has been chosen by a panel chaired by former BBC Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders, together with Philip Ball, science writer and author; Jonathan Derbyshire, executive comment editor of the Financial Times; Dr Sophie Ratcliffe, scholar, writer and literary critic and Rohan Silva, co-founder of the social enterprise, Second Home.
The shortlist will be announced on Monday 17 October. The winner of the 2016 prize will be announced on Tuesday 15 November, at a dinner supported by a donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The winner of last year’s prize was Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman.
Sarah Whitley, Partner of Baillie Gifford and Chair of its Sponsorship Committee, adds:
”Curious about the world is an in-house Baillie Gifford motto, and our long-term support of this prestigious prize fits very well with our focus on the pursuit of research across a broad range of subjects. This first longlist under our sponsorship shows the remarkable diversity of non-fiction writing, as well as the truly international nature of the competition.”