Saturday, October 19, 2019

2019 Cundill Prize shortlist

The Cundill Prize, the Canadian-based, big $$$, international history prize announced its shortlist in Toronto on October 16. The list is indeed short (as shortlists should be): just three books, all by women historians.

  • Mary Fulbrook, Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice, published by Oxford University Press.
  • Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States, published by W. W. Norton &, Company (US)
  • Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History, published by The Bodley Head (in the UK),  and Knopf (in the US)
Winner to be announced November 14 in Montreal.

I don't know if this proves that the Cundill Prize is succeeding in its intent, but over the years I have been moved from time to time to read the winners and even some of the nominees for the prize.  I've generally been glad I did, even when many of them were 750 page books on subjects of world history that I knew nothing about.

Lepore is a Harvard prof but also a contributor of marvellous essays to the New Yorker, and her book has been a widely reviewed bestseller in the United States. The other authors and books are less well known.  Most years one or two books on the Cundill list have achieved some trade market success, but the jurors are generally willing to give the prize to serious academic works on fairly obscure topic when they feel like it.  Good thing too. (This year one  --at least! -- of the jurors is a sometime reader of this blog, but no inside information has come this way. )
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