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Far from the Tree on Samuel Johnson Prize Longlist

by Liz Bury

Science is out and biography and history are in, as the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction announces a longlist focusing on “novelty” and “quality of writing” full of books that will “push readers out of their comfort zone”.

“We are looking for the kind of book that we would recommend to a friend, perhaps a subject that they didn’t normally read, but that has that special something – a theme, a novel approach, or a specially high quality of writing,” said Lord Rees, astronomer royal and chair of the judges.

“There are lots of biographies and history, fewer science, than in some years. We saw some books that were interesting, but that failed on the quality of writing test,” he added.

…The Samuel Johnson prize is awarded on 4 November and is worth £20,000. It is open to books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts, published in English by writers of any nationality. A shortlist will be announced in October.

Last year, the winner was Into the Silence, Wade Davis’s account of British assaults on Mount Everest during the 1920s.

The longlist

Small Wars, Far Away Places by Michael Burleigh (Macmillan)
Empires of the Dead by David Crane (William Collins)
The Return of a King by William Dalrymple (Bloomsbury)
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson (Jonathan Cape)
Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins (Jonathan Cape)
The Memory Palace by Edward Hollis (Portobello)
The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (Fourth Estate)
Disraeli by Douglas Hurd and Edward Young (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Modernity Britain by David Kynaston (Bloomsbury)
Diana Vreeland by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart (Thames and Hudson)
The War That Ended Peace by Margaret Macmillan (Profile)
Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore (Allen Lane)
Time’s Anvil by Richard Morris (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Edmund Burke by Jesse Norman (William Collins)
The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama (Bodley Head)
Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon (Chatto & Windus)
Everest: The First Ascent by Harriet Tuckey (Rider)
Danubia by Simon Winder (Picador)

(To read the full article, please visit the Guardian website.)