Canada’s $75,000 Cundill History Prize: 2022 Shortlist

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The Cundill History Prize 2022 shortlist includes a current-year Pulitzer Prize winner among its eight titles from six publishers.

Image: Cundill History Prize

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

See also:
The UK’s £62,000 Baillie Gifford Prize: 2022 Longlist

‘So Many Excellent Historians’
With submissions having closed on May 6 in a fully digital process this year, the Cundill History Prize administration, seated at Montréal’s McGill University, on Thursday (September 22) issued its 2022 shortlist.

Because the Cundill issued that shortlist on the same day as the Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction‘s announcement of its longlist—and the Baillie Gifford lifted its embargo first—we have held the Cundill information to today. This is part of our process of metering awards stories, so that they don’t overwhelm Publishing Perspectives with contest information and block us from presenting more pressing industry news.

We continue to recommend that organizers of the book business’ proliferating awards programs coordinate their schedules with each other so that the various news media covering the world publishing industry can provide the best response to these prizes’ robust competition for press attention. At the end of each of our awards stories, you’ll see our updated accounting of how many awards-related articles we have published this year.

As you’ll remember, the Cundill is one of a handful of world-class major awards in nonfiction, joined in that elite group by the Baillie Gifford; the renamed British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding (formerly the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize); and the German Nonfiction Prize.

The Cundill History 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 US$75,000 for the winner, the Cundill purse offers US$10,000 to each of two runners-up, making its total pay-out US$77,000.

This year’s shortlist includes a 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner, Ada Ferrer’s Cuba: An American History from Scribner. Two publishing houses have two shortlistees each, Yale University Press and WW Norton.

We anticipate the announcement of the Cundill’s three finalists from this shortlist on October 20. A winner is to be named on December 1 as part of what the program terms its Cundill History Prize Festival.

This year’s jury is led by the Georgetown University-based environmental historian JR McNeillThe panel of jurors joining him includes Martha S. Jones; Misha Glenny; Kenda Mutongi; and Yasmin Khan.

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).

Cundill History Prize 2022 Shortlist
Author Title Publisher / Imprint
JP Daughton In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism WW Norton & Company
Ada Ferrer Cuba: An American History Scribner
Henrietta Harrison The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators Between Qing China and the British Empire Princeton University Press
Harald Jahner Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955 Penguin Random House / Ebury
Tiya Miles All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake Penguin Random House
Mae Ngai The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics WW Norton & Company
ME Sarotte Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Stalemate Yale University Press
Vladislav Zubok Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union Yale University Press
McNeill: ‘History Is in Very Good Hands’

In a comment on the shortlist, jury chair McNeill is quoted, saying, “‘While it was a painful process to eliminate some magnificent books from the Cundill History Prize competition, it was a  pleasure to read so many excellent historians.

JR McNeill

“The eight on the shortlist span a wide range of the historian’s craft, but all share certain virtues: They demonstrate imagination in research, clarity in writing, and they invite readers to see their topics in novel ways.

“The variety of approaches, methods, perspectives, and subjects on offer in these books confirms my sense that history nowadays is in very good hands.”

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), who 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.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 169th awards report published in the 177 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Cundill History Prize is here. More on the international industry’s publishing and book awards is here, more on the Canadian book market is here, and more on nonfiction is here.  

More from us on the still-ongoing 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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