British Academy Book Prize Announces Its 2022 Shortlist

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Six titles are shortlisted this year by this 10-year-old award for nonfiction that contributes to ‘global cultural understanding.’

Image: British Academy Book Award

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

Also today: The UK’s Booker Prize for Fiction Names Its 2022 Shortlist

‘Global Currency and Importance’
The British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding has today (September 6) announced its 2022 shortlist.

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, this is the nonfiction prize formerly known by its original benefactor whose name it bore as the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.

The £25,000 prize (US$28,867), since the conclusion of the Al-Rodhan sponsorship, is operated by the British Academy, and continues to look for books “that contribute to public understanding of world cultures, to illuminate the interconnections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide, and to foster increased positive inter-cultural relations.”

This year’s shortlist comprises three debuts and three titles in translation. Despite what your calendar may tell you, it’s springtime for Penguin Random House UK, imprints of which are behind four of the six shortlisted titles.

And the list does have a gratifying internationalist element to it, with material drawn from Sweden, Germany, China, Chile, and the Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

The winner is to be announced on October 26.

British Academy Book Prize Shortlist 2022
Title Author, Translator if any Publisher, Imprint
The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness Katie Booth Scribe UK
Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955 Harald Jähner, translated by Shaun Whiteside Penguin Random House, WHAllen
Osebol: Voices From a Swedish Village Marit Kapla, translated by Peter Graves Penguin Random House, Allen Lane
Horizons: A Global History of Science James Poskett Penguin Random House, Penguin
When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold Alia Trabucco Zerán, translated by Sophie Hughes And Other Stories
Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China Jing Tsu Penguin Random House, Allen Lane

Authors whose work has been shortlisted for the 2022 British Academy Book Award are, upper row from left, Katie Booth; Harald Jähner (image: Barbara Dietl); and Marit Kapla (image: Trinidad Carrillo). And on the lower row from left are James Poskett; Alia Trabucco Zerán (image: Lorena Palavecino); and Jing Tsu (image: Corina Gamma)

As a point of information, on the three books which have been translated to English, we see book-cover credit for the translator only on one, and that is Alia Trabucco Zerán’s When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold. We have listed for you all three translators, and the British Academy Prize press information also provided that information to the news media. (A programming note: special emphasis is being given this year to the importance of translation and the work of translators at Frankfurter Buchmesse,

As you’ll remember, King’s College London emeritus professor in literature and history Patrick Wright again leads the jury this year. He’s joined by:

  • Philippe Sands of University College London and the firm Matrix Chambers. Sands won the Baillie Gifford Prize in 2016 for East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity (Penguin Random House / Vintage)
  • Madawi Al-Rasheed, visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics. She’s an author and editor of several books on Saudi Arabia and is a regular contributor of content to various news and information media
  • Catherine Hall, professor emerita of modern British social and cultural history and chair of the Centre for the Study of British Slave Ownership in the department of history, University College London. She’s a leading social and cultural historian known for her work on gender, class, race, and empire in the 19th century
  • Fatima Manji, and English television journalist who reportedly became the first hijab-wearing news reader in the United Kingdom in 2016

In a prepared comment for today’s announcement, Wright is quoted, saying, “This is the 10th year of the British Academy Book Prize, which now attracts many entries from across the humanities and social sciences, and includes books by journalists and independent writers as well as academics.

“Themes vary greatly and each book on this year’s shortlist greatly impressed the judges, not only for casting new and often quite unexpected light on an issue of global currency and importance, but [for] its imaginative way of combining original research with a style and approach that is accessible to the non-specialist reader.”

This is the 154th awards-related report that Publishing Perspectives has carried in the 164 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book award programs is here, and on the British Academy Book Prize in its renamed iteration is here. More from us on the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize, the honor’s original iteration, is here

And more 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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (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.

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