Madam Miaow makes Orwell Prize shortlist

Anna Chen Laurie Penny Orwell Prize shortlist 2010
Anna Chen (Madam Miaow) & Laurie Penny (Penny Red) Orwell Prize shortlist 2010

I’m celebrating, so I can’t be long. Hic!

MC Jean Seaton, Orwell Prize Director, said of Madam Miaow: “… independence and spirit.” And that we bloggers were “representing reporting from places that aren’t getting reported.”

A lovely event tonight at Reuters over drinks and canapes (hunks of chicken they called “goujons”, mini cheeseburgers and fishcakes — so much nicer than Ritz crackers and processed cheese).

I got the chance to meet the wonderful Jack of Kent and hang out with Laurie Penny and others including Dave Osler. The Miaow Massive included Harpy Marx who I hope to see nominated next year, plus Denis, Irene and Loved One.

The Guardian announces the Orwell prize shortlist but their link for Madam Miaow takes you to Laurie’s page. Anything to do with this?

Too celebracious to make sense. Here’s the organisers’ press release instead:


Books on Turkey, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Alzheimer’s, free speech and liberty make shortlist
Two Guardian journalists and Cambridge don among those on elongated journalism list
Pseudonymous social worker Winston Smith, named after 1984 character, makes Blog Prize shortlist

The shortlists for the Orwell Prize 2010, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, were announced at the annual shortlist debate at Thomson Reuters, Canary Wharf, this evening, Thursday 15th April at 7pm.

Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, revealed the 6 books, 7 journalists (instead of the usual 6) and 6 bloggers still in contention for the £3000 prizes ahead of a debate on the question, ‘has the political class been fatally weakened?’ and a screening of the First Election Debate.

The Book Prize shortlist comprises:

De Bellaigue, Christopher Rebel Land: Among Turkey’s Forgotten Peoples Bloomsbury
Gappah, Petina An Elegy for Easterly Faber; Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Gillies, Andrea Keeper Short Books
Kampfner, John Freedom For Sale: How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty Simon & Schuster
Malik, Kenan From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy Atlantic Books
Wrong, Michela It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle Blower Fourth Estate

This year’s shortlist has a strong international flavour, with Rebel Land on Turkey, Elegy for Easterly on Zimbabwe, and It’s Our Turn to Eat on Kenya, and Freedom for Sale and From Fatwa to Jihad both having a strong international dimension. But Britain is represented too, Andrea Gillies’ Keeper having already won the Wellcome Prize for medicine in literature for its account of living with Alzheimer’s.

Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘The Orwell injunction to go and see and report, whether at home or abroad, marks all these books. They are beautifully written pieces that translate important contemporary experiences into vivid quandaries – all of these books ask us to make our minds up, and do something.’

This year’s Book Prize judges are Jonathan Heawood (Director, English PEN), Andrew Holgate (Literary Editor, Sunday Times) and Francine Stock (writer and broadcaster). 212 books were entered, and 18 were longlisted.

The Journalism Prize shortlist consists of 7 journalists, rather than the traditional 6:

John Arlidge Sunday Times (Magazine, News Review)
Amelia Gentleman The Guardian (G2)
Peter Hitchens Mail on Sunday
Paul Lewis The Guardian
Anthony Loyd The Times; Standpoint
Hamish McRae The Independent
David Reynolds BBC (Radio 4, News online)

The Guardian has two journalists on this year’s shortlist: Amelia Gentleman for her social affairs work and Paul Lewis for his coverage of the G20 protests. Peter Hitchens is shortlisted for the third time in four years for his foreign reporting, alongside John Arlidge (for financial stories including ‘God’s work’ and Goldman Sachs), Anthony Loyd (on Afghanistan), Hamish McRae (for economic commentary) and David Reynolds, Professor of International History at Cambridge University, for work related to BBC Radio 4’s America: Empire of Liberty.

Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘Although moaning about the decline of journalism has become something of a national and international cliché, these acutely written, well-evidenced, careful bits of contemporary journalism show, in fact, it is in fine form.’

This year’s Journalism Prize judges are Roger Graef (writer, filmmaker, criminologist) and Peter Kellner (journalist, President of YouGov). 85 journalism entries were received, with 14 (rather than the usual 12) being longlisted. The pieces for which each journalist was shortlisted can be found on the Orwell Prize website.

The Blog Prize judges shortlisted 6 bloggers:

Hopi Sen Hopi Sen
Jack of Kent Jack of Kent
Laurie Penny Penny Red and others
Madam Miaow Madam Miaow Says
Tim Marshall Foreign Matters
Winston Smith Working with the Underclass

Named after the central character of 1984, social worker Winston Smith is the second pseudonymous public servant to be shortlisted for the Blog Prize, after last year’s winner Jack Night. He is joined by Labour-supporting blogger Hopi Sen (longlisted for last year’s Blog Prize), legal blogger Jack of Kent (freelance legal and policy writer, Allen Green), Laurie Penny (‘socialist, feminist… freelance copywriter and sometime blogger’), Madam Miaow (poet, writer and broadcaster, Anna Chen) and Tim Marshall (foreign affairs editor of Sky News).

Director of the Prize, Jean Seaton, said: ‘Blogging is coming of age. It really does have the capacity to take us to the unreported, shadow inside story of many important institutions, from law to social work as well as Westminster.’

This year’s Blog Prize judges are Richard Horton (‘Jack Night’, winner of the Orwell Prize for Blogs 2009) and Oona King (head of diversity for Channel 4, former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow). 164 bloggers entered, with 14 (rather than the usual 12) being longlisted. The shortlisted blogposts are all linked to from the Orwell Prize website.

Shortlist debate and winners

Those taking part in the shortlist debate on ‘has the political class been fatally weakened?, chaired by Jodie Ginsberg (UK and Ireland Bureau Chief, Thomson Reuters), were David Halpern (research director of the Institute for Government, former chief analyst at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit), Helena Kennedy QC (lawyer, broadcaster and writer), Cristina Odone (journalist, novelist and broadcaster) and Meg Russell (deputy director of the UCL Constitution Unit, adviser to the Wright Committee on parliamentary reform).

And so to bed (eventually …)

UPDATE: Video of the Shortlist announcement here. Orwell Prize Director Jean Seaton said of Madam Miaow Says:

An extraordinary account of things going on and blogged about with real views, with independence and spirit. A very distinct voice, very funny, and taking you to places that only blogging has discovered. Blogging has its own terrain and Madam Miaow takes you there.

Jean Seaton, Director of The Orwell Prize

Madam Miaow makes the Longlist – 24 March 2010

11 thoughts on “Madam Miaow makes Orwell Prize shortlist”

  1. Thank you, all. The Big Day for the Orwell winners is Wednesday 19th May. Oh, yes, there may be another biggish day before that — May 6th? So next time some of us meet, we'll know whether we're to die from syphylis or cholera.

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