Nobel winner Alexievich longlisted for Baillie Gifford Prize

Nobel winner Alexievich longlisted for Baillie Gifford Prize

The winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, is among the names on the 2016 longlist for the Baillie Gifford Prize (formerly the Samuel Johnson Prize).

Chair of the judges, former BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders, said each of the books were "as engrossing and imaginative as any novel".

Belarusian writer Alexievich, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature last October, was longlisted for Second-hand Time, the only work in translation on this list, translated by Bela Shayevich and published by independent publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions. The publisher said the title offers a "unique portrait of post-Soviet society out of the stories of ordinary women and men".

The 10-strong longlist also includes Pulitzer winner Margo Jefferson, who was longlisted for her mediation on the fallacy of post racial America Negroland: A Memoir (Granta). Libyan writer Hisham Matar - whose debut novel In the Country of Men (Viking), also made the list for The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between (Viking), about the novelist's journey to find his father, abducted by Colonel Gaddafi when Matar was 19, and to rediscover his country following the fall of the Libyan dictator in 2011.

Another "journey" on the list is written by art critic Laura Cumming. The Vanishing Man (Chatto & Windus), is a biography which chronicles a Victorian bookseller's search for the elusive painter Diego Velázquez. Another biography by Frances Wilson, Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey (Bloomsbury), describing the life of the essayist and "opium-eater", also made the longlist.

Simon Ings’s Stalin and the Scientists (Faber & Faber) studying Soviet scientific experimentation and Philippe Sands’ East West Street, delving into the origins of international law, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial feature on the longlist, along with Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene (Bodley Head), an "epic history of life’s master-code" and naturalist Charles Foster's Being a Beast (Profile Books) writing through the eyes of animals according to science.

The final title to be longlisted for the prize is by foreign correspondent Ben Judah, who turns his reporter's gaze on home, "immersing himself in the hidden world of London's immigrants to reveal the city in the eyes of its beggars, bankers, coppers, gangsters, carers and witch-doctors", in This is London (Picador).

Flanders, chair of the judges, said: "Shortly after committing to judge this award I found I had an overwhelming – and deeply unhelpful – urge to read fiction. But each of these 10 very different books takes you on a journey that is as engrossing and imaginative as any novel. They aim high, and deliver. I am not looking forward to having to choose between them."

Other judges on the panel were Philip Ball, science writer and author; Jonathan Derbyshire, executive comment editor of the Financial Times; Dr Sophie Ratcliffe, scholar, writer and literary critic and Rohan Silva, co-founder of the social enterprise, Second Home.

The shortlist will be announced on Monday 17th October and the winner will be revealed on Tuesday 15th November, at a dinner supported by a donation from the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

The winner of last year’s prize was Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently by Steve Silberman (Allen & Unwin). The prize-money pot has since been upped from £20k to £30k, with 2016 the first year the prize has been sponsored by Edinburgh-based investment management partnership Baillie Gifford.