Orwell prize goes to 'shrewd' Sewell and 'witty' Wheen

Brian Sewell and Francis Wheen are this year’s winners of the George Orwell Prize for political writing, writes Jean Morgan.

Sewell was chosen for his journalism in the London Evening Standard and Wheen for his published collected works, Hoo-Haas and Passing Frenzies.

Carmen Callil, one of the judges, said Sewell’s essays revealed “a shrewd and splendidly indignant mind. He is always entertaining, iconoclastic, unpredictable, and his truths and values are passionately held.” Noting that the non-fiction prize also went to journalism, judge David Hare said that Wheen’s book, published by Guardian Books, was “sheerly enjoyable”. He added: “To those practitioners who imagine that the job is to express an opinion, preferably perverse, about whatever comes into their head, we recommend the work of our winner – 1,200-word articles, little models of compression, of knowledge, of allusion, and above all, of witÉ Wheen is the rara avis of British journalism – the columnist who actually has something to say”.

The Orwell Prize Awards, in their 10th year, are sponsored by the George Orwell Memorial Fund and the Political Quarterly and are given annually to the two writers judged to have best achieved Orwell’s aim: “to make political writing into an art.”

Jean Morgan

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