Ondaatje prize: Aida Edemariam wins for vivid biography of her grandmother

Guardian journalist’s The Wife’s Tale takes the £10,000 Royal Society of Literature award for a work best evoking ‘spirit of a place’.

Aida Edemariam’s The Wife’s Tale, a biography of her grandmother who was born in northern Ethiopia more than 100 years ago and married at the age of eight, has won the £10,000 RSL Ondaatje prize.

Given to a work of literature that best evokes the “spirit of a place”, the Royal Society of Literature award counts Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With Amber Eyes and Alan Johnson’s This Boy among its former winners. Edemariam, a Guardian journalist, beat titles including Sarah Moss’s conjuring of iron age Northumberland, Ghost Wall, and Adam Weymouth’s travelogue, Kings of the Yukon, to this year’s prize.

Telling the story of the life of her paternal grandmother, Yetemegnu, The Wife’s Tale: A Personal History draws from research and Edemariam’s interviews with Yetemegnu to write what Ondaatje prize judge and novelist Michèle Roberts described as a mix of “memoir, oral history, fiction and snatches of prayer”. The story moves from Yetemegnu’s birth to her marriage to a cleric and poet two decades older than her, through fascist occupation, the rise and fall of ruler Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. She died in 2013 at the age of 97.

The biography is a “beautiful, complicated [and] sensual account”, says Roberts. “Her original form and newly minted language create a strong, delicate structure embodying her grandmother’s spirit and will to survive.”

Fellow judge Sabrina Mahfouz said Edemariam’s writing “pulses spectacularly with heart and soul, vividly depicting one inimitable woman centred within the swirling winds of politics, religion, patriotism and change”.

(Agent for Aida Edamariam: Peter Straus).


Richard Powers wins Pulitzer Prize for fiction

We are delighted to announce that Richard Powers has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Overstory (William Heinemann).

As the monumental importance of trees lies at the heart of The Overstory, Powers is hopeful that his win signals a growing respect both for environmental fiction and the natural world itself, and demonstrates that “there are readers out there who are hungry for a story that re-connects us to this world that we’re so alienated from.”

The Pulitzer Prize has been awarded by Columbia University each spring since 1917 in a range of categories including Public Service, Investigative Reporting, Fiction, and Poetry.

(Agent for Richard Powers: Peter Straus)

Jed Mercurio’ ‘Bodyguard’, and adaptations of John Preston and Edward St Aubyn’s nominated for BAFTA TV Awards

Bodyguard, created by Jed Mercurio, is nominated in the category of Drama series, while adaptations of John Preston’s A Very English Scandal and Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose are both nominated in the Mini-series category at the BAFTA TV Awards.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image (film, television and games) in the United Kingdom.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on May 12th.

(Jed Mercurio is represented by Gill Coleridge, John Preston is represented by Natasha Fairweather, and Edward St Aubyn is represented by Peter Straus.)




Ian Rankin, David Baddiel, and Kate Atkinson shortlisted at the British Book Awards

RCW is pleased to announce that three of our authors have been shortlisted for the British Book Awards.

Ian Rankin’s In a House of Lies has been shortlisted for the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year, David Baddiel’s book Head Kid has been shortlisted for the Children’s Fiction Book of the Year, while Kate Atkinson’s Transcription has been shortlisted for the Fiction Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2019.

The British Book Awards, also known as the Nibbies, celebrate and recognise the commercial success of British book industry, from authors, and publishers, to bookshops. Nibbies are organised by The Bookseller.

According to The Bookseller, the category winners will be decided by eight separate judging panels, with judges including acclaimed illustrator Axel Scheffler, food critic Jay Rayner, Adam Kay, author of the bestselling This is Going to Hurt, and Labour MP Jess Phillips, among others.

The winners will be announced on May 13th.

(David Baddiel is represented by Georgia Garrett; Ian Rankin is represented by Peter Robinson; Kate atkinson is represented by Peter Straus)

Raghu Karnard has been awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction

RCW is thrilled to announce that Raghu Karnard has been awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction.

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War (2015) is a stylish and exactingly researched work in which Karnad narrates the lost epic of India’s war through the lives of five young people — his grandfather among them — who were drawn into it. Resurrecting diaries and documents, Karnad uses fragmented evidence and testimony to build an account that he calls “forensic nonfiction,” as he untwines the fates of his subjects, from their schooldays in South India to their experiences of war, from the Arabian desert to the Burmese jungle.

Lifelong partners, Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell were avid book collectors, voracious readers, and friends with many of the most important literary figures of their time. Windham wrote memoirs, novels, plays, short stories, and a children’s book. Campbell was a stage actor who also penned unsigned book reviews for The New Yorker and contributed articles to Harper’s Magazine and other publications. A spirit of generosity, as well as a love of literature and a profound sympathy for his fellow writers, led Windham to establish the Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale University. The mission of the prizes is to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.

(Agent for Raghu Karnard: Cara Jones)