The Orwell Omissions 2014

25th Apr 2014

The Orwell Omissions 2014
Thank you judging panels of the Orwell Prize 2014. Thanks for crashing our party after the Caine Prize and BSFA announcements yesterday, with some truly spectacular oversights in your Book and Journalism Prize shortlists. We almost got ahead of ourselves for a moment there…

Touted as the “most prestigious prize in political fiction” the Orwell Prize does not have the greatest track record of gender parity and the longlists were not filled with promise, but we could be forgiven for expecting something a little better than a derisory nomination in each shortlist.

Congratulations must be paid to both Mary Riddell of the Daily Telegraph and Gaiutra Bahadur for their nominations. Presumably, a greater feat than most of us had realised, as politics are all just a bit too complex and virile for women.

Bahadur earned her nomination for Coolie Women, an uncharted exploration of indentured women labourers, who travelled overseas to fill the roles of emancipated slaves, including Bahadur’s own great-grandmother.

Longlisted women who didn’t cut the manly mustard are hacks Suzanne Moore and Caitlin Moran, and authors Jay Griffiths, Alison Wolf, Catherine Merridale and Shereen El Feki for the brilliant Sex and the Citadel.

It is a real disappointment to see that the accolade is dragging out-dated prejudices with it.Prize Director Jean Seaton remarked that, “the shortlist demonstrates the continuing power and resonance of political history.” It is a real disappointment to see that the accolade is dragging out-dated prejudices with it.

You can see the full shortlists on the prizes website.

In the meantime, we’d like to draw our readers attention to our recent review of Tansy E. HoskinsStitched Up. Or for more examples of women doing the unthinkable, and writing books that engage with political themes, try Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China by Leta Hong Fincher, Laura BatesEveryday Sexism, Acts of Union and Disunion by Linda Colley and we also reviewed I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb.