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  • 23 April 2009

Orwell Prize 2009

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Granta author Andrew Brown has been awarded the 2009 Orwell Book Prize for Fishing in Utopia (Granta Books). An extract from the book, ‘In the Clearing’, first appeared in Granta 93: ‘God’s Own Countries’.

The judges said: ‘The book tells, in a style which is both charming and crystalline, the story of how the author fell in love with Sweden and everything Swedish, including his first wife, the fishing and the socialism, more particularly the spirit of equality which seemed to pervade the whole country. And when he falls out of love, it is not a straightforward disillusionment but rather a rueful recognition of how incredibly hard it was and is for a country of dirt-poor farmers to emerge into an industrial nation without losing some of the idealism in the affluence. The descriptions of fishing are as enchanting as anything since Izaak Walton, but in its light and easy way the book is as profound as it is enchanting.’

Andrew Brown is the editor of the Belief section of the London Guardian’s Comment is Free site and writes regularly for Prospect and the New Statesman. His other books include The Darwin Wars and In the Beginning Was the Worm.

The Orwell Prize is the pre-eminent British prize for political writing. There are two annual awards: a Book Prize and a Journalism Prize. They are awarded to the book, and for the journalism, which is judged to have best achieved George Orwell’s aim to ‘make political writing into an art’. Submissions are judged equally for their style and the originality of their content and ‘the writing must be of a kind that is aimed at or accessible to the public’. The 2009 award ceremony was held yesterday, Wednesday April 23, at the Foreign Press Association, London, with judges Jenny Abramsky, Ian Jack, Ferdinand Mount and Geoffrey Wheatcroft.

The other category winners are:

Patrick Cockburn – awarded the Journalism Prize for articles from the London Review of Books and the London Independent.

Jack Night – awarded the Special Prize for Blogs for his blog, NightJack – An English Detective. (Jack Night, a pseudonym, is a serving police officer.)

Tony Judt – awarded a Special Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

Read more about the prize here.

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