The Orwell Prize
The Orwell Prize 2018 Winner: Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey
It is with great pleasure that we confirm that rapper and social activist Darren McGarvey’s powerfully original debut, Poverty Safari, has won this year’s Orwell Prize.
Combining memoir with passionate polemic, McGarvey’s writing resonates with humour and a level-headed authenticity drawn from his own upbringing on a deprived council estate in inner-city Glasgow. In Poverty Safari, he offers a skilfully reasoned, utterly compelling exploration of the real causes and consequences of contemporary social inequality.
Awarded annually by The Orwell Foundation, the Orwell Prize is given to the book which comes closest to the English writer George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art.’ Praising Poverty Safari as an essential call-to-action to confront the effects of poverty at every level, Chair of judges Andrew Adonis said, ‘George Orwell would have loved this book… It made me see the country and its social condition in a new light.’ Passionately engaged and unflinchingly honest, this book is an essential and exhilarating call-to-action from a strikingly original voice.
The second novel in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, Winter is a crisp, bright, luminescent novel. Set in a post-millennial Christmas Eve, it is at once a novel honed to our times - politically and socially astute – and a homage to memory and the layered, time-honoured associations of the season. As the Independent writes, ‘Smith’s prose - packed with trademark mischievous wit and wordplay, a joyful reminder of the most basic, elemental delights of reading – makes us see things differently’.
"This book is an enlightenment in itself,” noted David Aaronovitch in the Times, “and a salient one in this age when everyone seems to feel entitled to a firm opinion about Islam and Muslims." Beginning with the dramatic collision of East and West - following Napoleon's arrival in Egypt - and taking us through 200 tumultuous years of Middle Eastern history, Christopher de Bellaigue eschews received wisdom to present a very different portrait of contemporary Islam. Essential reading for anyone engaged with the state of the world today, The Islamic Enlightenment seeks to understand the transformation of modern Islam, and why such progression is now under threat.
Hailed by the Guardian as a book, that provides ‘proof of what historical research can yield, providing you have the determination, skill and boundless curiosity to pursue it to the bitter end’, What You Did Not Tell is a masterwork of meticulous investigation and personal interrogation. Turning to his own family history Mark Mazower offers a new perspective of socialist history in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution through the prism of a haunting story of personal experience.
The winner of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2017, Testosterone Rex is a radical new examination of the science of gender bias. Bringing together evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience and social history, Fine moves far beyond old `nature versus nurture' debates to explain why it's time to unmake the tyrannical myth of Testosterone Rex. As the New Statesman notes, ‘This is more than a guide to hormones, it’s also an urgent call for a wider conversation about gender expectations and the way we treat kids and adults alike’.
Growing up in Pollok, a poor area of Glasgow, Darren McGarvey witnessed first-hand the near-inescapable trap of social deprivation and poverty. Now a rap artist and social commentator, in Poverty Safari he uses his own story as a way in to a thoughtful, thought-provoking analysis of a socially divided Britain. McGarvey writes with a clarity that cannot fail to move and, as the Financial Times writes, ‘his urgently written, articulate and emotional book is a bracing contribution to the debate about how to fix our broken politics’.