Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 10:31 UK

Naipaul book nominated for prize

The World Is What It Is cover
The World Is What It Is is one of the six books shortlisted

An unflattering biography of Nobel- prize winning writer VS Naipaul is among six books shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

The true story of a Victorian murder, a book on the lives of rooks and jackdaws and a chronicle of Stalin's Russia are also nominated.

The winner, to be announced on 15 July, will receive 30,000 - the UK's biggest prize for non-fiction.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City won last year.

This year's nominated writers are Mark Cocker, Orlando Figes, Kate Summerscale, Alex Ross, Tim Butcher, and Patrick French for The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of VS Naipaul.

The book, which depicts Naipaul as arrogant, egotistical and cruel despite him authorising the work, is tipped as the favourite to win the prize.

Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart - Tim Butcher
Crow Country - Mark Cocker
The Whisperers - Orlando Figes
The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of VS Naipaul - Patrick French
The Rest is Noise - Alex Ross
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher Or The Murder at Road Hill House - Kate Summerscale

The book has already provoked much controversy, with writer Paul Theroux stating: "It is not a pretty story. It will probably destroy Naipaul's reputation forever".

Rosie Boycott, chair of the judges, said of the shortlist: "All six books are ones which changed the way we looked at the world, they are all ones we are eager to pass on to others."

"This superb list of books captures both the surface and the underbelly of human existence in all its myriad variations.

"There is murder, betrayal, brutality, beauty and tales of the unexpected. In every instance, it is the power and the quality of the writing that has drawn us to this eclectic selection."

Founded in 1999, the Samuel Johnson Prize is open to English-language books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

Nureyev biography vies for prize
15 Apr 08 |  Entertainment
Baghdad battle tale wins 30,000
19 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Dutch murder account up for prize
04 May 07 |  Entertainment
Middle East memoirs up for prize
12 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Shakespeare biography wins prize
15 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
Blogger up for non-fiction award
27 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
Novelist Coe wins Johnson prize
14 Jun 05 |  Entertainment


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific