Naipaul Biography Favorite for Samuel Johnson Prize

Patrick French’s biography of V S Naipaul, The World Is What It Is (Picador), is the favorite to win this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

In addition to French, the shortlist for the prize, announced today, features Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (Boomsbury), Tim Butcher’s Blood River (Vintage), Orlando Figes’ The Whisperers (Allen Lane), Mark Cocker’s Crow Country (Cape) and Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise (Fourth Estate).

According to bookmaker William Hill, French is the early front-runner at 5/2, followed by The Suspicions… at 3/1 and Blood River at 4/1.

Now in its 10th year, the prize is the world’s richest for non-fiction, worth £30,000 to the winner.

The judges, chaired by Rosie Boycott, will announce the winner on 15th July, with BBC4 televising the awards ceremony on 20th July. The channel will also televise short films on the contenders on 30th June and 10th July.

Boycott said: “In every instance, it is the power and the quality of the writing that has drawn us to this eclectic selection – and, as judges, it has been our great privilege to discover and help promote this award-winning short list. All six books are ones which changed the way we looked at the world, they are all ones we are eager to pass onto others.”

For the original report go to

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