Thursday, 15 May 2008


"The judges for the 2008 BBC FOUR Samuel Johnson Prize announced the shortlist today, 15th May. Now in its tenth year the prize is the world’s richest non-fiction prize and is worth £30,000 to the winner.

The BBC FOUR Samuel Johnson Prize for Non Fiction Shortlist 2008

  • Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart by Tim Butcher (Vintage)
  • Crow Country by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Whisperers by Orlando Figes (Allen Lane)
  • The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul by Patrick French (Picador)
  • The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (Fourth Estate)
  • The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Or The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale (Bloomsbury)

Rosie Boycott, Chair of the judges, comments:

“This superb list of books captures both the surface and the underbelly of human existence in all its myriad variations. There is murder, betrayal, brutality, beauty and tales of the unexpected. In every instance, it is the power and the quality of the writing that has drawn us to this eclectic selection - and, as judges, it has been our great privilege to discover and help promote this award-winning short list. All six books are ones which changed the way we looked at the world, they are all ones we are eager to pass onto others. To quote Yeats ‘He, too, has been changed in his turn / Transformed utterly / A terrible beauty is born.’” (Easter 1916)

Rosie Boycott is joined by an eclectic panel of judges who offer a wide range of literary, journalistic and academic experience. They are literary editor of the Guardian, Claire Armitstead; poet, Daljit Nagra; Director of the Science Museum, Chris Rapley; and documentary maker and journalist, Hannah Rothschild.

The judges will announce the winner of the Prize at an awards event in the Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre, London on 15th July. The winner receives £30,000, and each of the five shortlisted authors, £1,000."

Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction
Blood River - Tim Butcher
Crow Country - Mark Cocker (Guardian Unlimited)
The Whisperers - Orlando Figes
The World is What It Is - Patrick French (Guardian Unlimited)
The Rest is Noise - Alex Ross
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher - Kate Summerscale (Guardian Unlimited)

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