6 books shortlisted in the Baillie Gifford prize

Six books have been shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction’s winner of winners award.

The £25,000 prize, according to The Guardian,m arks the 25th anniversary of the prize, with the judges choosing their shortlist from the previous 24 years of the prize.

“The shortlist spans history, narrative-driven reportage, investigative journalism, and literary and cultural biography,” states the outlet.

Chair of judges Jason Cowley, who is editor-in-chief of the New Statesman, said the shortlist showed “range and quality”.

“These books are very, very exciting,” he said. “They were absolutely relevant and urgent when they were published and absolutely relevant and urgent today.”

Cowley is joined on the judging panel by academic, critic and broadcaster Shahidha Bari, journalist, author and academic Sarah Churchwell and biographer and critic Frances Wilson.

Although there is just one British author – Craig Brown – on the shortlist, three of the books deal with British icons: the Beatles, mountaineer George Mallory and William Shakespeare.

There are three American authors – Barbara Demick, Patrick Radden Keefe and James Shapiro – on the shortlist and two Canadians – Wade Davis and Margaret Macmillan.

Two thirds of the shortlist is male, mirroring the proportion of men who have won the prize; there have been just eight female winners out of 24.

Brown makes the shortlist for his 2020 winner One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time, Davis for Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, and Demick for  Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea

There is also Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe and  Shapiro’s 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare.

The winner of winners award is among a number of initiatives to celebrate 25 years of the prize, one of which is a documentary, All The Best Stories Are True, on the Baillie Gifford prize YouTube channel, which explores the prize’s origins as the non-fiction rival to the Booker.

The winner of winners will be announced on 27 April at an event held at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.


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