2022 shortlist announced for Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL), the voice for the value of literature in the UK, has today unveiled the shortlist for the 2022 RSL Ondaatje Prize. An annual prize of £10,000, the RSL Ondaatje Prize is awarded by the RSL to an outstanding work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best evokes the spirit of a place.

There are six authors on the shortlist, chosen from twenty-one on this year’s longlist. Authors were selected by judges Patrice Lawrence, Chair Sandeep Parmar and Philippe Sands.

The 2022 RSL Ondaatje shortlist is:

A.K. Blakemore, The Manningtree Witches (Granta)
Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape (William Collins)
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, Writing the Camp (Broken Sleep Books)
Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland (Viking)
Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees (Penguin)
Lea Ypi, Free (Allen Lane)

A.K. Blakemore said: “I am absolutely honoured that The Manningtree Witches has been shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize, one of the most exciting and eclectic awards I know of. I’m so pleased the judges enjoyed my evocation of a liminal little corner of Essex, and congratulate all the other authors.”

Cal Flyn said: “Expressing a sense of place—or, in the prize’s beautiful phrase, ‘the spirit of a place’—is an element of writing that I have sweated over and think a great deal about. So I am just over the moon to have been shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. I can’t thank the judges and the Royal Society of Literature enough.”

Yousif M. Qasmiyeh said “In the refugee camp, the spirit of the place does not only belong to the camp itself, but also, and always, to places that lie before and after the camp. It is a huge honour for Writing the Camp to be shortlisted for the 2022 RSL Ondaatje Prize and for refugees and their places, wherever they are, to be recognised in their own right.”

Sathnam Sanghera said “For me, Empireland is as much of a campaign as a book – an effort to get this country and educators to wake up to its imperial history. And a blue-chip shortlisting like this makes a real difference.”

Elif Shafak said I am utterly thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. A sense of place in literature, as in life, is always much more than a location, a landscape or a setting for a story. Place, for me, is primarily about memory, identity, belonging, migration; it is about being rooted, deracinated and finding new roots. Place is both home and exile.”

Lea Ypi said “I am delighted and honoured to be on the shortlist for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. I also very much hope that evoking the spirit of Albania will inspire readers of FREE to visit the country!”

The 2022 RSL Ondaatje Prize Longlist is:

Hester Barron & Claire Langhamer, Class of ‘37 (John Blake)
Polly Barton, Fifty Sounds (Fifty Sounds)
A.K. Blakemore, The Manningtree Witches (Granta)
Kirsty Capes, Careless (Orion Fiction)
Sonia Faleiro, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing (Bloomsbury Circus)
Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape (William Collins)
Sabba Khan, The Roles We Play (Myriad Editions)
Jake Morris-Campbell, Corrigenda for Costafine Town (Blue Diode Press)
Rebecca Netley, The Whistling (Michael Joseph)
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, Writing the Camp (Broken Sleep Books)
Jane Rogoyska, Surviving Katyn: Stalin’s Polish Massacre and the Search for Truth (Oneworld)
Leone Ross, This One Sky Day (Faber)
Sunjeev Sahota, China Room (Harvill Secker)
Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland (Viking)
Julian Sayarer, Iberia (Fox, Finch & Tepper Ltd)
Anita Sethi, I Belong Here (Bloomsbury Wildlife)
Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees (Penguin)
Stephanie Sy-Quia, Amnion (Granta Poetry)
Joelle Taylor, C+nto & Othered Poems (The Westbourne Press)
Lea Ypi, Free (Allen Lane)

First awarded in 2004, the premise and broad remit of the prize creates unique lists of outstanding works and authors that you would not usually find sitting side by side. Previous recipients of the prize have included Aida Edemariam, Ruth GilliganAlan JohnsonHisham Matar, Pascale PetitRoger RobinsonFrancis SpuffordEdmund de Waal, and Louisa Waugh.

👤 📅20 April 2022

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