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Katherine Boo, Rushdie in 2012 Samuel Johnson longlist

Salman Rushdie’s memoir of his time under an Iranian fatwa and Katherine Boo’s evocative exploration of a Mumbai slum have both been long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the premier non-fiction book prize in the UK.

Rushdie’s autobiography, ‘Joseph Anton’ and Boo’s ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ will go up against 12 other titles for the £20,000 award.

Among the books vying for the prize this year are ‘The Man Without A Face’, Masha Gessen’s investigation into the rise to power of Vladimir Putin; Wade Davis’ ‘Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest’ and ‘Feathers’, Thor Hansen’s wonderfully crafted investigation into the evolution of feathers.

‘Joseph Anton’ – the title, a combination of the first names of Rushdie’s favourite authors Joseph Conrad and Anton Checkhov – has been hailed by critics for its honesty and providing a fascinating insight into the circumstances of his life under a religious edict which was celebrated as much as it was celebrated.

American journalist Katherine Boo’s ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ is the result of 4 years spent in Mumbai’s fetid, sprawling Annawadi slum and has been acclaimed for exposing the social inequalities that blight India’s glamorous commercial capital.  

Previous winners of the Samuel Johnson prize include Antony Beevor and Margaret Macmillan.

This year’s winner will be announced on November 12.

– Isha Chandra

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