Hisham Matar wins Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2024

Hisham Matar wins Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2024

Hisham Matar’s novel My Friends won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2024 on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

The Orwell Prize, named in honour of English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic George Orwell, is one of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for political writing. The Orwell Foundation annually awards prizes for work that comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art’. Starting in 1994, winners of the Orwell Prize were recognised in the categories of political writing and journalism. The Orwell Prize for Political Fiction first awarded in June 2019 had Novuyo Rosa Tshuma and Diana Evans on the shortlist while Colson Whitehead won it in 2020.

The jury for 2024 comprising Alexandra Harris (Chair), Lara Choksey, Ross Raisin, and Simon Okotie announced the winner on Thursday, June 27. The winner is Hisham Matar’s My Friends, a novel about three Libyan men living in exile in London and the evolving emotional landscape of their friendship over time and events. Matar was born in New York City, where his father was working for the Libyan delegation to the United Nations.

Jury member Simon Okotie said, “A novel exploring the fallout of the 1984 shootings at the Libyan embassy in London, and its effect on three friends. The quietness of the prose belies the event’s traumatic drama and its profound personal and political repercussions. The style is old fashioned – genteel almost – and authentic to the point of reading like the most exquisite memoir. A warm and extraordinarily clear-sighted novel that is, in part, about the power of the literary word to effect real-world change.”

Matar tweeted, “Hugely honoured and deeply moved.”

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