The winner of the Orwell Prize for Books 2016 was announced today, Thursday 26th May 2016.
- Arkady Ostrovsky’s The Invention of Russia (Atlantic Books) wins the Orwell Prize for Books
- Ostrovsky is a Russian-born British journalist who has spent fifteen years reporting from Russia as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and The Economist.
- The Invention of Russia is an account of Russia’s post-Soviet transformation from Gorbachev’s freedom to Putin’s war and the central role played by the media in creating Russia’s national narrative.
- Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was one of the top ten bestselling books in Russia in 2015
The Invention of Russia is published by Atlantic Books. The Orwell Prize rewards the writing that comes closest to achieving Orwell’s ambition to ‘make political writing an art’.
Arkady Ostrovsky received the £3000 prize at a ceremony in Fyvie Hall at the University of Westminster. The Orwell Prize for Journalism and The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils were also awarded at the event
The Invention of Russia is an account of Russia’s post-Soviet transformation from 1985 to the present day, and the central role played by the media – especially television – in creating Russia’s national narrative. Through original research and interviews, Ostrovsky described “the ideological conflicts, compromises and temptations that have left Russia on a knife edge”.
Russian-born Ostrovsky has spent fifteen years reporting from Moscow and holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Cambridge. His translation of Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia has been published and staged in Russia.
Lord William Waldegrave, chair of the Judges for this year’s Book Prize, said “In a very strong field, Arkady Ostrovsky’s deeply felt and wonderfully knowledgeable account of the genesis of Putin’s Russia stood out as an important and timely book. It is a very worthy winner of the Orwell Prize, dealing as it does with the themes of media manipulation and the control of language, which were very close to George Orwell’s own heart.”
Richard Blair, George Orwell’s son, presented Ostrovsky with a trophy exclusively designed and made by three design students at Goldsmiths University, Tom Morgan, Archie Harding and Panaigiotis Tzortzopolous. The judges for the Orwell Prize for Books 2016 were Lord William Waldegrave, Professor Andrew Gamble, David Goodhart and Fiammetta Rocco.
Rose Sinclair, Lecturer in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “It has become tradition for students from our department to design and make the Orwell Prize trophy. Tom, Archie and Panaigiotis have worked together to create something that resonates with the rhetoric of the George Orwell prize: creative, stylish, symbolic, a piece of art in its own right.”
For further information, images and interviews, please contact Stephanie Le Lievre at the Orwell Prize
THE INVENTION OF RUSSIA
By Arkady Ostrovsky
Published by Atlantic Books
Publicity Contact: Karen Duffy
KarenDuffy@atlantic-books.co.uk 0207 269 0246
In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev launched Perestroika, opened Russia up to the world, ended the Cold War and gave his people freedom. The demise of the Soviet Union offered hope that Russia would become a ‘normal’, ‘civilized’ country, embracing Western values of democracy and the free market. Thirty years later, Russia emerged as a corporate state, overcome by imperial nationalism, fanned by its authoritarian president Vladimir Putin, who smashed the post-Cold War order and ignited a war on the borders of Europe.
How did a country that liberated itself from seventy years of Soviet rule end up as one of the biggest threats to the West and, above all, to its own future? Why did the people who rejected Communist ideology come to accept state propaganda? In this bold and important book, Arkady Ostrovsky takes the reader on an enthralling journey from Gorbachev’s freedom to Putin’s war, illuminating the key turning points that often took the world by surprise. The main characters are not politicians, however, but those who took charge of the media and the message and invented Russia’s dominant narrative.
From the suddenly wealthy men who came to command the airwaves to the newspaper editors and TV directors, and from the Russian intelligentsia to the Kremlin spin doctors and ideologists, The Invention of Russia shows just how these figures shaped the country during the tumultuous post-Soviet transformation.
As a foreign correspondent in his own country, Ostrovsky has experienced Russia’s modern history first-hand, and through original research and interviews he reveals the ideological conflicts, compromises and temptations that have left Russia on a knife-edge
Notes to editors:
- The Orwell Prize is Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing. Every year, prizes are awarded to the book and journalism entries which come closest to George Orwell’s ambition to ‘make political writing into an art’.
- For more information, please see our website www.theorwellprize.co.uk
- The Orwell Prize 2016 is for books and journalism first published in the calendar year 2015. All entries must have a clear link to the UK and Ireland, such as residency or citizenship of the author, or first publication. Someone involved in the creation of the work should be responsible for entering it – this may be, for example, the author, editor, or publisher.
- The Orwell Prize received 209 entries for the 2016 book prize. In 2015, the Prize received 230 entries.
- Previous winners of the Orwell Prize for Books include James Meek (2015), Alan Johnson (2014) and Raja Shehadeh (2008).
- The Prize was founded by the late Professor Sir Bernard Crick 1993, awarding its first prizes in 1994.
- The Orwell Prize is sponsored and supported by Political Quarterly, AM Heath and Richard Blair.
- The Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils is sponsored and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice. For more information, please see https://www.jrf.org.uk/
- The Director of the Orwell Prize is Professor Jean Seaton
- The Orwell Prize is a registered charity (no. 1161563).