Russian-born British journalist Arkady Ostrovsky has won the Orwell Prize for Books 2016 for The Invention of Russia (Atlantic Books).
Ostrovsky has spent 15 years reporting from Moscow as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist. The Invention of Russia is his account of Russia’s post-Soviet transformation from 1985 to the present day, exposing along the way the central role played by the media, especially television, in creating Russia’s national narrative.
The £3,000 prize, intended to reward writing that comes closest to achieving Orwell’s ambition to "make political writing an art", was presented to Ostrovsky at a ceremony in Fyvie Hall at the University of Westminster on Thursday evening (26th May). Richard Blair, George Orwell’s son, presented Ostrovsky with a trophy exclusively designed and made by three design students at Goldsmiths University.
Ostrovsky's work, a blend of original research and interviews, is said to reveal "the ideological conflicts, compromises and temptations that have left Russia on a knife-edge" and was praised by the judges as both "deeply felt" and "an important and timely book". The judges for the Orwell Prize for Books 2016 were Lord William Waldegrave, in the role of chair, Professor Andrew Gamble, David Goodhart and Fiammetta Rocco.
Lord Waldegrave said: “In a very strong field, Arkady Ostrovsky’s deeply felt and wonderfully knowledgeable account of the genesis of Putin’s Russia stood out as an important and timely book. It is a very worthy winner of the Orwell Prize, dealing as it does with the themes of media manipulation and the control of language, which were very close to George Orwell’s own heart.”
Ostrovsky also holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Cambridge. His translation of Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia (Faber & Faber) has been published and staged in Russia.