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Guardian UK: Outstanding 'complexity' wins Naomi Klein 50,000 inaugural Warwick prize

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-24-09 08:37 PM
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Outstanding 'complexity' wins Naomi Klein 50,000 inaugural Warwick prize

Alison Flood and Lindesay Irvine, Wednesday 25 February 2009 00.05 GMT

The complexity of Naomi Klein's portrayal of the rise of disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine, has won its author the inaugural 50,000 Warwick prize for writing.

The biennial prize, run by Warwick University, is promising to be one of the most unusual prizes on the books calendar, not least because it will tackle a different theme every two years, with "complexity" chosen as its initial focus. Chair of judges and author of "weird fiction" China Miville, praised The Shock Doctrine as a "brilliant, provocative, outstandingly written investigation into some of the great outrages of our time" which has "started many debates, and will start many more". The book charts Klein's four-year investigation into moments of collective crisis, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, dubbing the ways in which they are exploited by global corporations "disaster capitalism".

"At a time when the news out of the publishing industry is usually so bleak it's thrilling to be part of a bold new prize supporting writing, especially alongside such an exciting array of other books," Klein said on learning of her win. She beat a hugely varied shortlist which ranged from scientific theory to Spanish fiction to take the award, seeing off strong competition from Mad, Bad and Sad, Lisa Appignanesi's intricate study of the relationship between women and mental illness, and Alex Ross's Guardian first book award-winning history of 20th-century music, The Rest is Noise. Francisco Goldman's investigation into the murder of Guatemalan bishop Juan Gerardi, The Art of Political Murder, Stuart A Kauffman's Reinventing the Sacred and the solitary novel on the shortlist, Enrique Vila-Matas's study of an obsessive writer, Montano's Malady, completed the line-up.

The prize has self-consciously set out to break fresh ground as a prize, seeking not only to explore different themes, but also to explore "how writing evolves" and pick out its "moving edge". Miville commented: "Of course, that could mean anything and nothing, but because it's a prize that's deliberately interdisciplinary and 'inter-formal', you do end up picking up a sort of gestalt of the set of concerns that are flying around in the zeitgeist, and the different but overlapping ways it gets expressed.

"A lot of people were very sceptical, asking how you can possibly compare, say, poetry and science writing, like apples and oranges. But actually it was very interesting to see how so many writers on the shortlist were thinking about political corruption and corporate greed. It would be ludicrous to say 'I now know where the moving edge of literature is', but I think we have been left with a sense of how people are striving to push writing forward. At the risk of sounding very woolly, it was very liberating just to throw all these books in the air and consider them first of all as writing. ..........(more)

The complete piece is at:

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