Julian Baggini, Toby Green and Julia Lovell are among the six-strong shortlist for this year’s £25,000 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.
The annual prize, announced by the British Academy, celebrates non-fiction that illuminates the connections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide.
Judges picked a shortlist from 80 submissions including UK entries How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy by Baggini (Granta), A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Green (Allen Lane) and Lovell’s Maoism: A Global History (The Bodley Head).
Also in the final six are two books from US authors, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity by Kwame Anthony Appiah (Profile) and Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture by Ed Morales (Verso). New Delhi-based artist and oral historian Aanchal Malhotra also makes the cut for Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided (Hurst).
Chair of the jury Professor Ash Amin said: “The jury has selected a shortlist of six exceptional books that is far-reaching in scope, purpose and purchase. Each beautifully crafted book has been chosen for its meticulous and original research. It is a shortlist which we hope will spark curiosity, promote dialogue and inspire readers to look to other cultures to find answers to the big questions about the world today. These are the workings of great minds.”
Professor Sir David Cannadine, president of the British Academy, added: “Such rigorous, timely and original non-fiction writing provides the rich context the global community needs to discuss and debate present-day challenges. Each of the writers nominated for this year’s prize encourages the reader to trace the remarkable ways in which ideas are transmitted beyond the confines of borders, dynasties and ages.”
Joining Professor Amin on the jury are historian and political scientist Professor Rana Mitter, social anthropologist Professor Dame Henrietta Moore, writer and broadcaster Professor Patrick Wright and writer Madeleine Bunting.
The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London’s British Academy on 30th October, including a panel discussion with the shortlisted writers, chaired by Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji.
Last year’s prize was won by Kapka Kassabova for Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (Granta).