Saturday, August 30, 2008

James Tait Black Memorial Prize 2008

The James Tait Black Memorial Prize is among the oldest and most prestigious book prizes awarded for literature written in the English language. It is based in the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland (that's where I studied!).

This year's winner of the fiction award was Our Horses in Egypt by Rosalind Belben (UK).
The book features parallel stories: Philomena, an English hunting horse of no particular distinction, is requisitioned by the British army in World War I and shipped to Egypt to become a military mount, and Griselda, her former owner, a young woman widowed by the war, sets off on an eccentric mission to Egypt (with her six year old daughter and nanny in tow) to recover Philomena.

The other shortlisted books were: The Devil's Footprints by John Burnside (UK), The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan / UK), A Far Country by Daniel Mason (USA) and Salvage by Gee Williams (UK). It seems clear at this point that The Reluctant Fundamentalist is receiving very good reviews and I look forward to reading it. The plot of A Far Country by Daniel Mason, the only American writer shortlisted, also looked interesting, but The New York Times gave it a bad review. I guess that a Western author writing about a third-world country isn't fashionable anymore!


  1. Old post - ever fresh. Haven't read this book, but after reading your article will sure be looking out for it. Thanks for sharing your interesting and useful info.