British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding

The British Academy Book Prize, worth £25,000, is awarded annually for a non-fiction book that promotes global cultural understanding.

British Academy Book Prize

Now in its 10th year, the £25,000 Prize is awarded annually for a non-fiction book that has made an outstanding contribution to global cultural understanding for a wider public audience. The British Academy is the UK’s national academy for humanities and social sciences, and eligible books come from the subjects that fall within those disciplines, from archaeology, history and psychology to philosophy, languages and cultural studies.

Nominations for the 2022 British Academy Book Prize will bring together books that demonstrate rigorous original and high-quality research, which are accessible and engaging to read. The Book Prize judges will select a shortlist of up to six books to be announced in September. The winner of the 2022 prize will be announced in October. The 2022 nomination deadline has now passed.

The 2022 winner

Read an extract

When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold by Alia Trabucco Zerán (And Other Stories)

When Women Kill book cover

When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold forensically examines four homicides committed by everyday Chilean women over the course of the 20th century. Taking these four cases in Chile as her starting point, Alia Trabucco Zerán introduces a wholly original and globally significant feminist perspective to the study of women murderers. It is translated by Sophie Hughes, and is published in the UK by independent press, And Other Stories.

Alia Trabucco Zerán – whose debut novel The Remainder was shortlisted in 2019 for the Man Booker International Prize, and who originally trained as a lawyer – spent many years researching this outstanding work of creative non-fiction, expertly blending true crime writing with the art of the critical essay and investigative memoir. The result is a compelling narrative which not only explores the circumstances around the four killings ­­– so high-profile that they went on to inspire plays, poems and films – but also the reaction from the media and the judgement of a patriarchal society.

Alia Trabucco Zerán was awarded a Fulbright scholarship for her MFA in Creative Writing at New York University and holds a PhD in Spanish and Latin American Studies from University College London. The Remainder won the Best Unpublished Literary Work awarded by the Chilean Council for the Arts in 2014, and on publication was chosen by El País as one of its top 10 debuts of 2015. She was born in Santiago, Chile, in August 1983, and lives there today. When Women Kill is her second book.

Read the full winner's announcement.

On 24 October 2022, we held an in-person and online event for the 2022 British Academy Book Prize. All six shortlisted authors were joined by award-winning journalist Rosie Goldsmith for an exploration of urgent and globally significant topics.

Interview

British Academy Book Prize shortlist 2022

As part of this year’s celebrations, we asked our six shortlisted authors a series of short questions to find out more about their research processes and the inspiration behind their books.

The 2022 shortlist

Read an extract

The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell's Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth (Scribe UK)

The Invention of Miracles book cover

The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell's Quest to End Deafness by Katie Booth, who grew up in a mixed hearing / deaf family, is the result of more than a decade’s research. This compelling and revelatory biography of Alexander Graham Bell tells the dual stories of the invention of the telephone and how Bell became the enemy of the deaf community in his efforts to stamp out sign language in America. This is Booth’s first book.

Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich by Harald Jähner (WH Allen/Ebury Publishing)

Aftermath book cover

In Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, Harald Jähner, cultural journalist and former editor of Berliner Zeitung, explores life in Germany after the Second World War and asks how a nation recovers from Nazism. This fascinating and ground-breaking history of Germany’s mentality in the decade after the Second World War is translated by Shaun Whiteside.

Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla (Allen Lane)

Osebol

Marit Kapla, editor of a cultural magazine in Gothenburg, brings to life the stories of the 40 remaining residents of a remote village in Sweden in Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village. Kapla’s engrossing debut book became an unexpected phenomenon in Sweden and is translated by Peter Graves.

Horizons: A Global History of Science by James Poskett (Viking)

Horizons book cover

In Horizons: A Global History of Science, James Poskett, Associate Professor in the History of Science and Technology at the University of Warwick, challenges the traditional Eurocentric narrative in a radical retelling of the history of science and celebrates scientists from Africa, America, Asia and the Pacific and the parts they played in this story. This is his first book for a general readership.

Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China by Jing Tsu (Allen Lane)

Kingdom of Characters book cover

In Kingdom of Characters: A Tale of Language, Obsession, and Genius in Modern China, Jing Tsu, a Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures & Comparative Literature at Yale, combines meticulous research with a compelling narrative to tell the stories of the bold innovators who adapted the Chinese language to make it accessible to a globalized, digital world.

British Academy Book Prize 10th anniversary anthology

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As part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, we asked previously shortlisted and winning authors to revisit their respective books and reflect on the key themes of their work. The subsequent essays were compiled into Furthermore..., an anthology of work that features Patrick Wright FBA, Sujit Sivasundaram, and Kapka Kassabova, among other talented writers.

Find out more and read the individual essays from the publication.

Key dates 2022

Opening of the 2022 Prize for nominations 31 January
Event with Sujit Sivasundaram to mark the opening of the cycle 1 February
Closing of nomination period 31 March
Shortlist announcement 6 September
Shortlist event 24 October
Winner announcement 26 October

The jury

Madawi Al-Rasheed FBA

Writer and academic, Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics

Catherine Hall FBA

Emerita Professor of History and Chair of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery, University College London

Fatima Manji

Channel 4 News broadcaster and journalist

Philippe Sands QC FRSL

Lawyer, academic and writer, University College London and Matrix Chambers

Patrick Wright FBA

Writer and broadcaster, Professor of Literature and Visual and Material Culture at King’s College London

History of the prize

The British Academy Book Prize, formally known as the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, was launched in 2013 in partnership with Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan with the aim of establishing a significant force in global publishing and prizegiving. Since then, the prize has recognised a distinguished array of shortlisted authors and eventual winners. Their work explores many different aspects of global cultural understanding and combines original academic enquiry with engaging story-telling to reach the broadest possible public audience.

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