David Cohen Prize 2013
The winner of the David Cohen Prize is selected by a panel of judges comprised of authors, literary critics and academics. This year's judging panel includes:
- Shirley Crew, Professor Emeritus of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Leeds
- Award-winning novelist Sarah Hall
- Kathleen Jamie, writer, poet and Professor of Creative Writing at Stirling University
- Writer and critic Sam Leith
- Broadcaster, critic and biographer Fiona MacCarthy, OBE
- Award-winning poet and critic, Daljit Nagra
- Kate Summerscale, award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction, and judge of numerous literary prizes
- Screenwriter and dramatist, Roy Williams
Mark Lawson, Chair of Judges said:
'In 2011, when Julian Barnes won the David Cohen Prize before going on to take the Man Booker, it was further confirmation of the Cohen's knack of highlighting the writers who really matter. Three previous winners of the DCP went on to claim the Nobel Prize for Literature and I think the David Cohen Prize can properly be seen as a sort of Nobel for UK and Irish writers. I am delighted to be chairing for a second time an award of such distinction and, in the early stages of the 2013 judging, have been excited to see new candidates emerging to challenge those who ran close last time.'
Shirley Chew is Professor Emeritus of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Leeds, and currently Visiting Professor at the Division of English, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She has published widely in the field of literatures from Commonwealth countries with recent articles on Rudyard Kipling (2010), Michael Ondaatje (2010), Olive Senior (2011), and Wole Soyinka (2012). She has co-edited Unbecoming Daughters of the Empire (1993), Translating Life: Studies in Transpositional Aesthetics (1999), Re-constructing the Book: Literary Texts in Transmission (2001), and the Blackwell Concise Companion to Postcolonial Literature (2010). She is the founding editor of Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings.
Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974. She is the author of four novels, Haweswater, The Electric Michelangelo, The Carhullan Army and How to Paint a Dead Man, and a collection of stories, The Beautiful Indifference. She is the winner of, amongst others, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Betty Trask award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Portico Prize for Fiction. The Electric Michelangelo (2005) was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Kathleen Jamie was born in the west of Scotland in 1962. Her poetry collections to date include The Tree House (Picador 2004), which won both the Forward prize, and the Scottish Book of the Year Award; Jizzen (Picador 1999), which won the Geoffey Faber Memorial Award and Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead, which was shortlisted for the 2003 Griffin Prize. Her first non-fiction, The Golden Peak; an account of her travels in rural Pakistan, was re-published by Sort of Books as Among Muslims in 2005. It was described as 'utterly luminous' (The Independent) and 'one of the most powerful accounts by a contemporary Western writer' (TLS). Her subsequent collection of prose essays, Findings (Sort of Books 2006) is considered a landmark in nature writing. Her next book will be Sightlines, the highly anticipated sequel to Findings. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Stirling University and lives with her family in Fife.
Broadcaster, journalistMark LawsonBroadcaster, journalist
Mark Lawson, Chair of Judges, is a journalist, broadcaster and author.
Since 1998, Mark Lawson has been the main presenter of Radio 4's arts and culture programme Front Row. As a writer for radio and television, his scripts include The Vision Thing, Absolute Power, The Third Soldier Holds His Thighs and What Did I Say? His novels include Idlewild, Going Out Live and Enough is Enough. He is a columnist and feature writer for the Guardian, and was voted Cultural Commentator of the Year in 2010. He was previously television critic and parliamentary sketch writer for The Independent and presented BBC2's weekly arts round up from 1993 to 2005 under the titles Late Review, Review and Newsnight Review.
Author, journalistSam LeithAuthor, journalist
Sam Leith is a freelance writer and critic who contributes regularly to the Guardian, Evening Standard, Spectator, Wall Street Journal Europe and Prospect. His first book, Dead Pets, was published by Canongate in 2005 and his second, Sod's Law, came out from Atlantic in 2009. His first novel, The Coincidence Engine, was published by Bloomsbury in April 2011. It was selected as one of the Waterstone's 11 best first novels of the year and shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman PG Wodehouse Award for comic writing. He has also published a non-fiction book about rhetoric, Are You Talkin' To Me?
He lives in North London with his wife and two children.
Broadcaster and criticFiona MacCArthyBroadcaster and critic
A well-known broadcaster and critic, Fiona MacCarthy established herself as one of the leading writers of biography in Britain with her widely acclaimed book Eric Gill, published in 1989. Her biography of Byron was described by A N Wilson as 'a flawless triumph' and William Morris won the Wolfson History Prize and the Writers' Guild Non-Fiction Award. She is also the author of Last Curtsey, a memoir of her early life as a debutante.
Fiona is a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Hon. Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She was awarded the OBE for services to literature in 2009. She won in the biography category for the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes 2012 for her life of Edward Burne-Jones, The Last Pre-Raphaelite.
Daljit Nagra comes from a Punjabi background. He was born and raised in London and then Sheffield. He has won several prestigious prizes for his poetry. In 2004, he won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem with 'Look We Have Coming to Dover!' This was also the title of his first collection, which was published by Faber & Faber in 2007. This won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and The South Bank Show Decibel Award. His second collection, Tippoo Sultan's Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Daljit's poems have been published in The New Yorker, Atlantic Review, London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Poetry London, Poetry International, Ark, Rialto and The North. He is a regular contributor to BBC radio and has written articles for The Financial Times, the Guardian, The Observer and The Times of India.
Kate Summerscale is the author of the number one bestselling The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2008, a winner of the Galaxy British Book of the Year Award, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and adapted into a major ITV drama. Her first book, the bestselling The Queen of Whale Cay, won a Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. She has also judged various literary competitions including the Booker Prize. She lives in London.
Roy Williams began writing plays in 1990 and is now arguably one of the country's leading dramatists. In 2000 he was the joint-winner of The George Devine Award and in 2001 he was awarded the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. He was awarded the OBE for Services to Drama in 2008.
His plays include Sucker Punch (Royal Court Theatre, nominated for Olivier Award for Best Play), Category B (Tricycle Theatre), Angel House (Eclipse Theatre, UK Tour), Days of Significance (RSC), Joe Guy (Tiata Fahodzi), There's Only One Wayne Matthews (Polka Theatre), Baby Girl (NT Connections), Absolute Beginners (Lyric Hammersmith), Little Sweet Thing (Nottingham Playhouse), Slow Time (NT Education), Fallout (Royal Court Theatre), Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads(NT), Clubland (Royal Court Theatre), The Gift (Birmingham Rep/Tricycle Theatre), Local Boy (Hampstead Theatre), Souls (Theatre Centre), Life Off (Royal Court) , Starstruck (Tricycle, Winner of John Whiting Award, Alfred Fagon Award & EMMA Award for Best Play), Josie's Boy (Red Ladder Theatre Co) and The No-Boys Cricket Club (Theatre Royal, Stratford East).
His work for television includes Let it Snow (Endor Productions/Sky), Fallout (Company Pictures/Channel 4, Screen Nation Award for Achievement in Screenwriting), Offside (BBC, Winner of BAFTA Children's Film & TV Award for Best Schools Drama) and Babyfather (BBC).
About the David Cohen Prize 2013
Celebrating a lifetime’s achievement in literature
Established in 1993, the David Cohen Prize for Literature is one of the UK’s most distinguished literary prizes. It recognises writers who use the English language and are citizens of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, encompassing dramatists, as well as novelists, poets and essayists. Former winners include V S Naipaul, Harold Pinter, William Trevor, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney and, most recently in 2011, Julian Barnes.
The biennial prize, of £40,000, is for a lifetime’s achievement and is donated by the John S Cohen Foundation. Established in 1965 by David Cohen and his family, the trust supports education, the arts, conservation and the environment. Arts Council England provides a further £12,500 (The Clarissa Luard Award) to enable the winner to encourage new work, with the dual aim of promoting young writers and readers.
Previous winners of the David Cohen Prize for Literature and recipients of the Clarissa Luard Award (in italics)
1993 V S Naipaul An award for a young biographer or cultural historian, administered by the Society of Authors, won by Rosemary Hill
1995 Harold Pinter The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, for the development of young playwrights
1997 Muriel Spark The library of James Gillespie's High School, Edinburgh (the inspiration behind The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)
1999 William Trevor An award for a young writer from Omagh in Co. Tyrone, administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
2001 Doris Lessing The Art of Regeneration, in association with the Royal National Theatre
2003 Beryl Bainbridge and Thom Gunn (joint winners) The Arvon Foundation and the Kings Lynn Literature Festival
2005 Michael Holroyd Royal Society of Literature/ Jerwood Foundation Award for Non-Fiction, awarded to Alice Albinia
2007 Derek Mahon Gallery Press, Ireland
2009 Seamus Heaney Poetry Aloud!
2011 Julian Barnes The Reading Agency