The Orwell Prizes are the UK’s most prestigious prizes for political writing. Every year, The Orwell Foundation awards prizes for the work which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition “to make political writing into an art.”
Summer by Ali Smith
The fourth novel in the Seasonal Quartet is “a prose poem in praise of memory, forgiveness, getting the joke, and seizing the moment”
In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile, the world’s in meltdown—and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time.
This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: Where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?
Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition and Compromise in Putin’s Russia by Joshua Yaffa
In this rich and novelistic tour of contemporary Russia, Joshua Yaffa introduces readers to some of the country’s most remarkable figures—from politicians and entrepreneurs to artists and historians—who have built their careers and constructed their identities in the shadow of the Putin system. Torn between their own ambitions and the omnipresent demands of the state, each walks their own path of compromise. Some muster cunning and cynicism to extract all manner of benefits and privileges from those in power. Others, finding themselves less adept, are left broken or demoralized. What binds them together is the tangled web of dilemmas and contradictions they face.
Between Two Fires chronicles the lives of a number of strivers who understand that their dreams are best—or only—realized through varying degrees of cooperation with the Russian government. With sensitivity and depth, Yaffa profiles the director of the country’s main television channel, an Orthodox priest at war with the church hierarchy, a Chechen humanitarian who turns a blind eye to persecutions, and many others. The result is an intimate and probing portrait of a nation that is much discussed yet little understood. By showing how citizens shape their lives around the demands of a capricious and oftentimes repressive state—as much by choice as under threat of force— Yaffa offers urgent lessons about the true nature of modern authoritarianism.