Cover Stories: William Shawcross; Caine Prize

William Shawcross, whose Sideshow: Kissinger and the Destruction of Cambodia helped claim the moral high ground for the Left in the 1980s, may have sold out by accepting the Queen's shilling as the official biographer of her late mother. But Tariq Ali, another global thinker of the '68 generation, hasn't lost touch with his roots. As editorial director of Verso, he has bought Paul Ginsborg's "unbelievably critical" biography of the reckless Italian PM, Silvio Berlusconi. The book has been atop Italy's bestseller lists and Ginsborg - professor of European History in Florence - is adding another devastating chapter as he works on his own translation. One for the Blair bedside table, surely.

Only four years old, and awarded for short stories, the Caine Prize for African Writing has become the place to look for new stars from the continent. The 2001 winner, Nigerian Helon Habila, soon went on to win plaudits with his first novel, Waiting for an Angel. Last year's victor, the Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina, has already signed with agents Curtis Brown and set up a Kenyan internet literary magazine, Kwani? And it was Kwani? that published this year's winning story: "Weight of Whispers", on the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. The Nairobi-born author, who has a background in film and TV, accepted the award at Oxford's Bodleian Library with a regal aplomb that hinted this might be the first of many prizes for her.

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