The Spectator’s new Shiva Naipaul Prize winner


The Spectator is proud to announce it has a new Shiva Naipaul Memorial prize winner — Tara Isabella Burton. Tara’s dazzling travel essay about the town of Tbilisi greatly impressed the judges, which this year included Colin Thubron and Joanna Kavenna—as Clarissa Tan reports in this article for the newspaper.

Tara’s piece, which you can read here, was published in our Christmas issue. We want to blare her trumpet a bit more, and also to announce that the other five essays that made our shortlist will appear online in the coming days. These will be pieces by our runner-up Steven McGregor, who wrote poignantly about visiting the House of Lords, as well as by Dina Segal, William Nicoll, Cheryl Follon and Marianne Brown.

The Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, revived this year, is awarded annually to the entrant best able, like the late author, to describe a visit to a foreign place or people. The award is not for travel writing in the conventional sense, but for the most acute and profound observation of a culture alien to the writer. The winner receives a cash prize of £3,000 and the winning entry is published in the Spectator.

Our first-ever prize was awarded to no other than current Booker winner Hilary Mantel, in 1987. You can read her essay on Saudi Arabia, as well as other past winning articles, here.

The Shiva Naipaul Prize is open to contestants all over the world. We received 150 entries from 22 countries, including the UK, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Canada, Japan, Iceland, Somaliland, the UAE and Vietnam.

Do look out for when entries open again this year, in mid-July.

For the original report go to

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