Michele Kirsch wins £10,000 RSL Christopher Bland Prize

Michele Kirsch wins £10,000 RSL Christopher Bland Prize

Michele Kirsch has won this year's Royal Society of Literature Christopher Bland Prize, for her memoir Clean (Short Books).

The £10,000 award goes to a debut novelist or popular non-fiction writer first published at the age of 50 or over.

Described as a "sharply observed" and "hilarious" by judge Andrew Lycett, Kirsch's book includes reflections on her life from both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on addiction, together with "compelling" social commentary.

Kirsch, who is the second winner of the award, said: "I am delighted and honored to win this year’s RSL Christopher Bland Prize. The fact that this award is specifically for first books by authors over 50, is proof that those of us who get algorithm pop-up adverts for potions that diminish the physical signs of decrepitude, still have something to say. Clean could not have been written had I not lived through the experience. When you are older you are more comfortable with your own writing voice, and for me, that meant feeling OK about tackling a very serious and sometimes tragic subject matter with some levity."

This year's prize was judged and chaired by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Sara Collins and Lycett. Alibhai-Brown said: "Reading books by authors over 50 was a hugely exciting adventure. The range of subjects and writing styles truly impressed the judges. The winning book is beautifully crafted and written, filled with darkness and light, compelling. We go with the writer Michele Kirsch, as she fights addiction with honesty and humour. And, like her, come away changed forever." 

Clean was selected as the winning title from four other shortlisted books: Anne Griffin's When All is Said (Sceptre), Stephen Morris' Black Tea (Claret Press), David Nott's War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Line (Picador) and Celia Paul's Self-Portrait (Jonathan Cape). 

In its inaugural year, 2019, the award was won by Raynor Winn for The Salt Path (Michael Joseph).