Books on empire, migrant crisis up for Baillie Gifford prize

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LONDON (AP) — Books about Britain’s imperial past and the human face of the present-day refugee crisis are among the finalists for Britain’s leading nonfiction book award, the Baillie Gifford Prize.

The shortlist announced Monday includes Harvard professor Caroline Elkins’ hard-hitting “Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire” and Irish journalist Sally Hayden’s “My Fourth Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World’s Deadliest Migration Route.”

Four books by British writers are also among the finalists for the 50,000 pound ($55,000) prize.

They are Jonathan Freedland’s true Holocaust story “The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World;” Anna Keay’s “The Restless Republic: Britain Without a Crown,” which charts Britain’s brief period as a republic in the 17th century; Polly Morland’s “A Fortunate Woman: A Country Doctor’s Story;” and Katherine Rundell’s poetic biography “Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne.”

Journalist Caroline Sanderson, who is chairing the judging panel, said the six books “are marvelously wide-ranging, in terms of setting, era, and the creative approaches on display. But however different the canvas, all have enthralling human stories at their heart.”

The Baillie Gifford Prize recognizes English-language books from any country in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

Last year’s winner was Patrick Radden Keefe’s “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty,” an expose of the family that helped unleash the United States’ opioid epidemic.

The winner of the 2022 prize will be announced on Nov. 17 at a ceremony in London.

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