Helen Dunmore's The Betrayal has made it onto the six-strong shortlist of the Orwell Prize for political writing, the first novel to be shortlisted since 2008.
The list, whittled down from 213 titles by BBC Radio 4's Jim Naughtie; founder director of Virago Press Ursula Owen; and books editor of the Observer Will Skidelsky, includes a further two titles from Penguin: Oliver Bullough's Let Our Fame Be Great and The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham.
Director of the prize Jean Seaton said: "There is a recurrent theme in this year's books, and it is very Orwellian: fear. For the first time we have had to seek to preserve the anonymity of an author, Afsaneh Moqadam on Iran, and from Dunmore's gripping novel about life in Stalin's Russia to Oliver Bullough on a previously unknown genocide, the horror of authoritarian power is displayed.
"But there is an answering theme—from Tom Bingham's Rule of Law which lays out (for all societies) how law not just written down but in practice preserves liberty and order, to Thorpe's wonderfully humane biography of Macmillan, seamlessly weaving the personal and the affairs of state to Christopher Hitchens' grand memoir, full of brilliant writing and sharp judgements brimming with a very particular life—that cherishes the individual."
The winners of the Orwell Prizes—book, blog and journalism—each worth £3,000, will be announced at an awards ceremony on 17th May.
The shortlist in full:
The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham (Allen Lane)
Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus by Oliver Bullough (Penguin)
The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore (Fig Tree)
Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens (Atlantic Books)
Death to the Dictator! by Afsaneh Mogadam (The Bodley Head)
Supermac: The Life of Harold MacMillan by D R Thorpe
(Chatto & Windus)