De Bellaigue, Mekhennet, Kaufmann shortlisted for £25k British Academy prize

De Bellaigue, Mekhennet, Kaufmann shortlisted for £25k British Academy prize

Six writers will contest the shortlist for the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2018, the British Academy's £25,000 international prize.

British writers on the shortlist are Christopher de Bellaigue for The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason (The Bodley Head), James Fergusson for Al-Britannia: A Journey Through Muslim Britain (Bantam Press) and Miranda Kaufmann for Black Tudors: The Untold Story (Oneworld).

Also shortlisted are Bulgarian writer Kapka Kassabova for Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (Granta Books), which explores the border zone betwee Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece; German journalist Souad Mekhennet for her memoir of journalism assignments I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad (Virago); and New Zealand author Dame Anne Salmond for her "ambitious" study of New Zealand, Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds (Auckland University Press).

Chair of the judges Professor Ash Amin, the foreign secretary of the British Academy, said: “All of these fine books display an appetite for both research and original thinking that sets them apart in the rapidly changing, and often shallow, information world of today. Here, the truth counts, as does the commitment to delve deep into the making of cultural identities, affiliations, and connections. This prize is awarded for global cultural understanding, and that is precisely what all of these books deliver.

 “In these difficult times it is important to be reminded of the ties that bind us, whoever and wherever we are. The books shortlisted for this prize do just that, and magnificently.”

 The British Academy's chief executive Alun Evans added: "In Britain, and across the globe, we stand at a crossroads: the challenges mankind faces know no borders, from the rapid development of new technologies to climate change, from military conflicts to the spread of disease – yet we remain divided. Never has there been a greater need for the global cultural understanding this Prize seeks to celebrate.

“The British Academy proudly champions the humanities and social sciences, and these subjects’ power to illustrate and illuminate. That is why we are grateful to Nayef Al-Rodhan for establishing such an important and timely prize, and for highlighting the benefit of tackling these challenges.”

The prize was first awarded in 2013 and this is the first year that a shortlist has been introduced. The last three winners were Timothy Garton Ash for Free Speech (2017), Professor Carole Hillenbrand for Islam: A New Historical Introduction (2016), and Dr Neil MacGregor for A History of the World in 100 Objects and Germany: Memories of a Nation (2015).

The winner will be announced at an evening ceremony held at the British Academy on Tuesday 30th October.