Smith wins first Pushkin House Russian Book Prize

Former People by Douglas Smith, published by Macmillan, has won the inaugural £5,000 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize.

The prize is given by London's independent Russian cultural centre Pushkin House in association with Waterstones and rewards a strongly written non-fiction book in English about Russia and the Russian-speaking world.

Smith's book, which is the first to tell the story of what happened to those members of the Russian aristocracy who stayed in Russia after the revolution, was named the winner in a ceremony at the Hay Festival last night (29th May). Chairman of the judges Sir Rodric Braithwaite described it as "original, well-researched and written with style, passion and a strong narrative drive".

Braithwaite also praised Anne Applebaum's Iron Curtain (Allen Lane), saying the judges would "have happily declared two equal winners" had the rules allowed. Applebaum's book describes how the Soviet Union's construction of Communism was extended into Eastern Europe.

The other titles shortlisted for this year's prize were Man Without a Face by Masha Gessen (Granta); Wheel of Fortune by Thane Gustafson (Harvard University Press); Soviet Baby Boomers by Donald Raleigh (Oxford University Press USA); and Moscow 1937 by Karl Schlogel (Polity Press).

The judges considered more than 40 books published in English during 2012 for the prize, including translations from German and French. Submissions are now open for next year's prize, which will be for titles published in 2013.