Slum life on Johnson prize list


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The Independent Culture

A book about life in an Indian slum and the story of George Mallory's attempt to climb Everest are among the contenders for a prestigious literary prize.

The shortlist of six books in contention for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction also includes a history of violence and a biography of playwright August Strindberg, but there is no room for Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton, which made the initial longlist.

MP David Willetts, who chairs the judging panel, said: "The titles on this year's shortlist have all impressed the judges with their originality and high quality of writing. Each of them communicates complex themes, and in a way that is both enlightening and entertaining.

"These are significant books which have the ability to change our view of the world and which we believe will make a lasting contribution to their genres. Their broad range of subject matter reflects the diversity of English-language non-fiction, and has the potential to inspire readers of all interests."

The winner of the prize, which will be announced on 12 November, receives £20,000.

Previous winners include Anthony Beevor's history of Stalingrad and Barbara Demick's Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea.

The shortlist:

Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death And Hope In A Mumbai Slum, by Katherine Boo

Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory And The Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis

The Old Ways: A Journey On Foot, by Robert Macfarlane

The Better Angels Of Our Nature: A History Of Violence and Humanity, by Steven Pinker

The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition And Extermination In Twentieth-Century Spain, by Paul Preston

Strindberg: A Life, by Sue Prideaux