In Canada, the $75,000 Cundill History Prize Names Its Jury

In News by Porter Anderson

Four jurors join the chair JR McNeill for the 2022 Cundill History Prize competition, based at McGill University.

On McTavish Street at McGill University, the seat of the Cundill History Prize. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Delpixart

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘In This Era of Information Wars’
We had news in March of the US$75,000 Cundill History Prize appointing Georgetown University-based environmental historian JR McNeill as the 2022 jury chair for the program—one of the richest accolades in the field of international historical writing.

With submissions having closed on May 6–in a fully digital process this year—the Cundill administration, seated at Montréal’s McGill University—today (June 8) is naming the panelists who have joined McNeill in jurying this year’s competition. The prize is open to authors from anywhere in the world, regardless of nationality or place of residence, as well as to books translated into English.

In addition to the $75,000 for the winner, the Cundill purse offers $10,000 to each of two runners-up.

Having produced its program digitally for two years, the Cundill administration expects a hybrid iteration this year.

Four Jurors Announced for McNeill’s Cundill Panel

Jurors joining JR McNeill for the 2022 Cundill History Prize are, from left, Martha S. Jones; Misha Glenny (image: Teresa Walton); Kenda Mutongi; and Yasmin Khan

Jurors joining JR McNeill on the jury panel are:

  • Martha S. Jones, a legal and cultural historian specialized in Black citizens and American democracy; Jones was shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize in 2021 and is a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University
  • Misha Glenny, a former BBC Central Europe correspondent, author, and rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna
  • Kenda Mutongi, professor of African, world, and gender history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT; a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard
  • Yasmin Khan, an associate professor of British history at the University of Oxford; she’s a winner of the Gladstone and Karachi Literature Festival prizes

Following a reading period over the summer months, the jurors will meet in a series of video calls to deliberate on the longlist, the shortlist of eight titles, the three finalists, and then the winner of the Cundill for this year.

In a prepared comment about her participation in the process this year, Mutongi is quoted, saying, “The Cundill History Prize shines the spotlight on deeply-researched histories that are literary and appeal to a broad public, exactly where the field of history should be going in this era of information wars.

“I’m looking forward to reading the nominations alongside other historians. While giving out the prize is our ultimate goal, I’m excited about the process of reading new work, arguing about it with the jury members, and learning about a range of historical perspectives.”

Events in the Cundill’s 2022 Cycle

The Cundill History Prize shortlist is to be announced in September, followed by the finalists’ announcement in October. The winner will be named in early December as part of the annual Cundill History Prize Festival, which includes the Cundill Lecture and Cundill Forum, alongside new features. A full season calendar and event details will be available later in the year.

The 2021 Cundill History Prize was won by University of Maryland historian Marjoleine Kars for Blood on the River: A Chronicle of Mutiny and Freedom on the Wild Coast (New Press).

Last year, Kars and her two colleagues in the finalists’ trio were announced for the first time at Frankfurter Buchmesse. Those runners-up:

Author Title Publisher / Imprint
Rebecca Clifford Survivors: Children’s Lives After the Holocaust Yale University Press
Marie Favereau The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World Harvard University Press / Belknap

Previous winners of the award are:

  • Camilla Townsend (2020)
  • Julia Lovell (2019)
  • Maya Jasanoff (2018)
  • Daniel Beer (2017)
  • Thomas W. Laqueur (2016)
  • Susan Pedersen (2015)
  • Gary Bass (2014)
  • Anne Applebaum (2013)
  • Stephen Platt (2012)
  • Sergio Luzzatto (2011)
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch (2010)
  • Lisa Jardine (2009)
  • Stuart B. Schwartz (2008)

Peter Cundill

The Cundill History Prize was founded by Peter Cundill (1938-2011) was the founder of the Cundill Value Fund. He established the Cundill History Prize in 2008, two years after being diagnosed with Fragile X Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome, with which he died in London.

One of the best elements of today’s presentation was a short video presentation on Cundill and his life, putting an important and interesting face to the prize’s name.

This is the 103rd awards-related report that Publishing Perspectives has carried in the 107 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Cundill History Prize is here. And more on publishing and book awards in general is here. More on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here.  

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.