Kate Clanchy and Colson Whitehead win Orwell Prizes

Kate Clanchy and Colson Whitehead win Orwell Prizes

Kate Clanchy and Colson Whitehead have won this year's £3,000 Orwell Prizes for Political Writing and Political Fiction. 

Clanchy has been awarded the Political Writing Prize for Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me (Picador). It details a teacher's life spent in the state education system, and was described by the judging panel as "moving, funny and full of life", offering "sparkling insights into modern British society".

In her acceptance speech Clanchy said: “Schoolteachers are not taken seriously in so many different ways: not by politicians, not as intellectuals, and not as artists. So for this to win the prize for political writing as art means so much to me, and I hope it will mean something for other teachers too. This it is the prize, of all prizes, I would have wanted."

Colson Whitehead received the prize for Political Fiction for the The Nickel Boys (Doubleday) a "devasting portrait of racial brutality and corruption" set in a segregated reform school in Florida. Accepting his award from New York, Colson said the story of abuse and power could happen "anywhere where the powerful can inflict their will upon the powerless, where there's a culture of impunity". Whitehead earlier won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel, making him only the fourth writer to ever win the prize twice. 

This year's judging panel was comprised of director of the WOW foundation Jude Kelly, novelist Matthew Sperling, literary journalist and editor Sarah Shaffi and Tom Gatti, deputy editor of the New Statesman.

 The authors accepted the award virtually and will each receive £3,000 and a trophy later in the year.

Last year's winners were Anna Burns and Patrick Radden Keefe