A book about the “exposure of greed and corruption in modern Russia” by Peter Pomerantsev has won the £10,000 RSL Ondaatje Prize.
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, published by Faber, was described by judge Kate Adie as an “exuberant exposure”, with the “grotesque pursuit of money conveyed in glittering, trenchant prose, as is a country where gangsters rule and the river of tainted money flows easily to London.”
The RSL Ondaatje Prize honours the fiction, non-fiction or poetry “evoking the spirit of a place”.
Pomerantsev, who lives in London is a contributor to the London Review of Books and his writing has been published in the FT, New Yorker, El Pais, and others.
He beat off competition from The River by Jane Clarks (Bloodaxe Books), about rural Ireland, The Great Explosion by Brian Dillon (Penguin Books), about a munitions factory on the Kent marshes, Weatherland by Alexandra Harris (Thames & Hudson), The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks (Allen Lane) and The Divided Island by Samanth Subramanian (Atlantic Books).
Fellow judge Mark Lawson said of the winner: “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible is a sort of anti-travelogue, making the reader desperately keen never to go near the places described: the Muscovite, Siberian, American and English haunts of those who became super-rich from the division of state assets and the new entrepreneurial possibilities that arose in post-Soviet Russia. Pomerantsev’s storytelling is funny, frightening, exhilarating.”
Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Love by Justin Marozzi was last year’s winner.