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Ypi wins Ondaatje Prize for ‘Free’

In the UK, Lea Ypi has won the £10,000 (A$17,400) Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize for Free (Allen Lane), a coming-of-age memoir set amid political upheaval in Albania.

The judging panel described Free as a ‘both darkly humorous and deeply serious work [that] made us reflect forcefully on the need for truthfulness about the stories we are told and how we negotiate our own lives within them’.

‘Ypi is a master at the juxtaposition of these grand and personal narratives—of family secrets and political crises—and repeatedly we returned in our judging conversations to history’s long shadow, asking what darkness lies where things remain unquestioned,’ the judging panel said.

Free was chosen from a shortlist that also included The Manningtree Witches (A K Blakemore, Granta), Islands of Abandonment: Life in the post-human landscape (Cal Flyn,William Collins), Writing the Camp (Yousif M Qasmiyeh, Broken Sleep Books), Empireland: How imperialism has shaped modern Britain (Sathnam Sanghera, Viking) and The Island of Missing Trees (Elif Shafak, Penguin).

Now in its 18th year, the annual prize is awarded for ‘a distinguished work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place’. For more information, see the Royal Society of Literature website.


Category: International news