The UK’s £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize: 2022 Longlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction will award £50,000 to its winner in November, with a shortlist due October 10.

Image: Baillie Gifford Prize

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

See also:
Canada’s $83,000 Cundill History Prize: 2022 Shortlist

Seven Longlisted Authors Are British
Iin the overgrown jungle of book and publishing awards based in the United Kingdom, Publishing Perspectives readers know that the Baillie Gifford Prize is one of the quite lucrative awards for nonfiction alongside the Cundill History Prize; the renamed British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding (formerly the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize); and the German Nonfiction Prize.

The Baillie Gifford’s grand prize for its winner is £50,000 (US$54,045), and each of its 12 shortlisted authors gets £1,000 (US$1,008) for a total of £62,000 in prize money.

This morning’s (September 22) announcement of the longlist includes four authors in their debut publications: Andrea Elliott; Thomas Halliday; Sally Hayden; and Matt Rowland Hill. All of the dozen authors here are also newcomers to the prize’s recognitions, no returnees. Seven longlisted authors are British.

Many will note the timely inclusion in this longlist of the American author and Harvard professor Caroline Elkins’ Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire (Penguin Random House/Bodley Head, March).

In a conversation with Caroline Houck at Vox during the mourning rites for Queen Elizabeth II, Elkins said, “What we do know is that with King Charles III, there can’t be any question about plausible deniability.

“Given the demands for a broader sort of imperial reckoning across the empire, based upon abundant numbers of protests and petitions from formerly colonized people, as well as the abundance of evidence that folks like myself have produced, he cannot sidestep this.

“So the question becomes: Will he break with tradition, with the legacy of his mother kind of gatekeeping a unique history of exceptionalism of the British Empire?”

That discussion of the decolonization era and Elizabeth’s “gatekeeping” of “British exceptionalism” is seen by many as  long overdue, and many observers and academics now insist that the time for transparency, review, and investigation has arrived.

Maya Jasanoff is another author in the field, and was honored by the Cundill History Prize—one of the Baillie Gifford’s sister prize programs in socially pertinent nonfiction–for her The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World—from Penguin Random House in Canada and the UK, and from HarperCollins in the States. Her New York Times op-ed piece, Mourn the Queen, Not Her Empire (September 8), has been a part of the debate about, as Jasanoff notes the phrase, “the end of an era” in which “we may never learn what the queen did or didn’t know about the crimes committed in her name.”

And this is the kind of literary output that the stronger book and publishing awards programs—such as the Baillie Gifford and the Cundill—are bringing forward to the industry’s and consumers’ attention. It’s that value that sets such awards programs apart from the deep field of so many less relevant, more entertainment-based competitions.

Dates Ahead for the Baillie Gifford

A shortlist in the Baillie Gifford program is anticipated on October 10 at England’s Cheltenham Literary Festival, a public-facing event. The winner is then to be named on November 17 in an event at London’s Science Museum with support from the Blavatnik Foundation.

Last year’s Baillie-Gifford winner was the American writer Patrick Radden Keefe for Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, published by Pan Macmillan’s Picador in the UK and PRH imprint Doubleday in the United States.

The books on this longlist were chosen from an initial pool of 362 titles published between November 1 and October 31 of this year. Jurors this time are writer and associate editor of The Bookseller, Caroline Sanderson (chair); writer and science journalist, Laura Spinney; critic and writer for The Observer, Rachel Cooke; BBC journalist and presenter, Clive Myrie; author and New Yorker writer, Samanth Subramanian; and critic and broadcaster, Georgina Godwin.

Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction jurors for the 2022 cycle are, from left on the upper row, Caroline Sanderson (chair); Clive Myrie; and Rachel Cooke. On the lower row from left, Samanth Subramanian; Georgina Godwin; and Laura Spinney. Images: Baillie Gifford Prize

The Baillie Gifford Prize 2022 Longlist
Title Author Publisher and/or Imprint
Legacy of ViolenceA History of the British Empire Caroline Elkins (American) Penguin Random House / Bodley Head / Vintage
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City Andrea Elliott (American) Penguin Random House / Hutchinson Heinemann / Cornerstone
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World Jonathan Freedland (British) Hachette / John Murray Press
Otherlands: A World in the Making  Thomas Halliday (British) Penguin Random House / Allen Lane / Penguin Press
Dinner With Joseph Johnson: Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age Daisy Hay (British) Penguin Random House / Chatto and Windus / Vintage
My Fourth Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route Sally Hayden (Irish) HarperCollins /  4th Estate
Original Sins: A Memoir Matt Rowland Hill (British) Penguin Random House / Chatto and Windus / Vintage
The Restless Republic: Britain Without a Crown  Anna Keay (British) HarperCollins / William Collins
A Fortunate Woman: A Country Doctor’s Story Polly Morland (British) Pan Macmillan / Picador
The Barefoot Woman Scholastique Mukasonga (French/Rwandan), translated by Jordan Stump Daunt Books Publishing / Daunt Originals
Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne Katherine Rundell (British) Faber & Faber
Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China Jing Tsu (American)  Penguin Random House / Allen Lane / Penguin Press

The Baillie Gifford Prize for nonfiction is open to writers of all nationalities and covers nonfiction in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography, and the arts.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 168th awards report published in the 176 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing industry and book awards is here, more on the United Kingdom’s market is here, more on the Baillie Gifford Prize is here, and more on nonfiction is here.

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 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.