Shiva naipaul memorial prize

The Navigators

Tehran does not welcome pedestrians. It is eight o’clock on a July evening and the sun has plunged out of the air with alarming speed; the sky is the colour of wine, and the air is thick with the scent of heat and petrol. I have long forgotten where we are going. Dust-coloured buildings spill out to the horizon, many of them protected by barbed-wire gates. In this part of town it is so unusual for people to walk on the streets at night — I am told that only fools and prostitutes do so — that the pavements are unlit, and we rely on the rippling glow of the

Give us your views! Here is Fraser Nelson’s

Spectator readers are known for their views — fierce, funny, original. Now we want not only your opinions, but your visual views as well. This week’s magazine features Sam Leith’s lovely review of Simon Jenkins’ wonderful book, ‘England’s 100 Best Views’. What are your favourite views, from these shores and beyond? Send them to us. Also, don’t forget we’re canvassing your viewpoint with our Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize — the £2,000 award for unconventional travel writing. Only three more weeks till that competition closes. To kick off our reader photo spree, we thought we’d give you some views of our own. The photo above shows editor Fraser Nelson’s favourite view,

No, you did not ‘leave the modern world behind’: some phrases should be banned from travel writing

Clichés and travel writing, sadly, often go hand in hand. I look after the travel pages at the Daily Mail and have felt compelled to compile a list of banned words and phrases for writers. The list gets longer by the week. Because the Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing is underway, I thought I’d pull out my list again. Here are just a few of the offending words and phrases on it. I’m sure you can think of more. city of contrasts breathtaking jaw-dropping leaving the modern world behind chilled out pampering nothing but the sound of waves bygone era stunning (includes ‘simply stunning’) nightmare (includes ‘complete nightmare’, ‘total

The Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul prize for outstanding travel writing is open for entries

The Spectator, as it does every year, is offering you good money to write about your travels. What’s more, our £2,000 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize — named after the late Trinidad-born writer and brother of VS Naipaul — is not awarded for travel writing in the conventional sense. You need not have gone anywhere highly exotic or far away: the prize is for ‘the most acute and profound observation of a culture alien to the writer.’ You can write from outer space or from your back garden, what we’re looking for is writing that is fresh, current, different, intelligent, incisive, witty, sad or funny — or all of those things.

Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize: Auschwitzland, fun for the Whole Family

This essay was shortlisted for the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. I took a Valium on the plane to Poland. I had run into an old friend at the airport and he gave it to me. I hadn’t planned on taking it, until I heard the girl next to me say to her neighbour ‘So, do you think it’ll be like, you know, like sad?’ ‘I guess so. Do you like my hair like this?’ Her neighbour replied. I recognised them both from the barbeque at the Rabbi’s house a few weeks before. It had been an opportunity for all the people going on the tour to meet and get to

Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize: What’s waiting at Elm Tree Loan

The following essay was shortlisted for the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. It’s a cold, sunny morning when I take the bus to Elm Tree Loan. It’s a trip that I’ve avoided and I feel sick and dizzy. Tourists gather on St Andrew’s Square, beneath the granite plinth. They admire the bright shop windows and the old doorman, with his top hat and gold-trimmed tailcoat. Two girls pose for photographs with him and giggle, then bow theatrically when he waves them through the shining glass doors. From the bus-stop, I watch the shoppers disperse across the drab city gardens. Bandaged in autumn colours and clutching paper bags, they look like parchment

Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize – Salt

The following essay was shortlisted for the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. It follows the publication of the winning entry, by Tara Isabella Burton, and the runner-up, by Steven McGregor. The remaining shortlist entries will appear on the website in the coming days. I knew next to nothing about the desert – nothing about its geology, its geography, the kind of people who lived here. We’d stretched out in bed in Glasgow and you’d said what about the desert and we were here now. You’d said what about the Grand Canyon? That was somewhere around here – that pink and purple vein – and so was the Joshua Tree – that old thing

Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize – The Walking Wounded

This is the runner-up in our recent Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize. The rest of the shortlist will be published in the coming days. At the entrance is a pale stone bower of equilateral arches and then a brass-plated door opens into a small vestibule and after a turn there is the Chamber. The golden Sovereign’s Throne: empty. Five rows of long benches, red leathered, are stacked on either side. Above, between sets of bar-traced windows, bronze statues of chain-mailed knights hold broadswords and maces. Some of their faces are cast downward as if watching the proceedings below. From my seat in the guest area, near the entrance, I could see

The Spectator’s new Shiva Naipaul Prize winner

The Spectator is proud to announce it has a new Shiva Naipaul Memorial prize winner — Tara Isabella Burton. Tara’s dazzling travel essay about the town of Tbilisi greatly impressed the judges, which this year included Colin Thubron and Joanna Kavenna. Tara’s piece, which you can read here, was published in our Christmas issue. We want to blare her trumpet a bit more, and also to announce that the other five essays that made our shortlist will appear online in the coming days. These will be pieces by our runner-up Steven McGregor, who wrote poignantly about visiting the House of Lords, as well as by Dina Segal, William Nicoll, Cheryl

Last chance for the Shiva Naipaul Prize 2012

Hilary Mantel recently won her second Booker Prize, having clinched two Bookers in a row, the latest for the second book of a planned trilogy – surely a first. As we never tire of mentioning here at the Spectator, Hilary was the inaugural winner of our Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, back in 1987. Her stunning essay, on living a strange, segregated life in Saudi Arabia, can be found here. The Shiva Naipaul prize, named after the late great Trinidadian author and brother of VS Naipaul, celebrates travel writing but not in the conventional sense. It is awarded every year to an essay that gives the most acute and profound observation

Frank Johnson, a magnum and me

The 1996 Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize was won by Miranda France. Here, she shares her experience of winning the award and visiting the Spectator office and then-editor Frank Johnson to get her £3,000 cheque.   Miranda France has since had four books published. Her Shiva Naipaul-winning entry, ‘Bad Times in Buenos Aires’, can be read here. To find out more about the Shiva Naipaul award, and how you can enter, click here.     I clearly remember the day I won the Shiva Naipaul prize in 1996. My husband and I were renting a place off London’s south circular, a slightly grim maisonette where cushions were attached to the

The Visit – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 2007

The 2007 Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize was won by Clarissa Tan. The prize, named after the late Trinidadian author, is for ‘the most acute and profound observation of a culture evidently alien to the writer’. The judges that year included William Boyd, Matthew d’Ancona (then editor of The Spectator) and Mark Amory (literary editor of The Spectator). Clarissa is now a staff writer at The Spectator. To find out more about the Shiva Naipaul competition, and how you can enter, click here.   The Visit Clarissa Tan I wish to write about a place of which I know everything yet nothing, where everything is familiar yet strange, a place where I feel

Mary Wakefield

Entertaining Dr Murdock – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 2000

The Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for the year 2000 was won by Mary Wakefield. The judges included Antony Beevor; Patrick Marhnam; Boris Johnson, then editor of the magazine; and Mark Amory, who was and still is the Spectator’s literary editor. Mary is now Deputy Editor of the Spectator. The Shiva Naipaul prize is awarded for travel writing, and other past winners include Hilary Mantel, Miranda France and John Gimlette. To learn more about the prize and how you can enter, click here. Entertaining Dr Murdock Mary Wakefield There’s a narrow road heading east out of Denton, Texas, across the hot dust and prickly yellow grass. It runs straight as a red-neck’s gun barrel,

Happy birthday V.S. Naipaul

Given it’s V.S. Naipaul’s birthday today, we’ve dug out from the archives a 1979 Spectator review by Richard West of A Bend In The River. Don’t forget that the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, named after his younger brother, is currently open for entries. One of the dark places The protagonist and narrator of this book is a young man named Salim from the east coast of Africa; a Muslim Indian by origin but not from one of the families of the men who came to build the railways. Like the Arabs of old Zanzibar and what is now Tanzania, Salim’s ancestors had once traded in ivory and slaves from the interior of

Bad times in Buenos Aires – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 1996

Miranda France won the Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize in 1996. Her winning essay (below) formed the heart of her first, eponymous book. Two years later she wrote her second book, ‘Don Quixote’s Delusions’, which the Sunday Times described as ‘stimulating to the point of intoxication.’ To learn more about the Shiva Naipaul prize for travel writing, and how you can enter, click here.   Bad times in Buenos Aires  ARGENTINES have a word for the way they feel: bronca. An Italo-Spanish fusion, like most Argentines themselves, the word implies a fury so dangerously contained as to end in ulcers. People feel bronca when they wait for an hour to be served at a

The most important taxi ride I’ve taken

The Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, which The Spectator has just relaunched, is awarded for travel writing that gives ‘the most acute and profound observation of a culture alien to the writer’. Here, its 1997 winner John Gimlette, whose most recent book has been shortlisted for the Dolman Prize, tells us what winning the award meant to him.  To find out how you can enter the Shiva Naipaul competition, whose other previous winners include Hilary Mantel and Miranda France, click here. To read John’s winning entry from 1997, click here.    The most important taxi I’ve taken John Gimlette I’m utterly delighted that the Shiva Naipaul Prize is back up and running. 

Pink pigs in Paraguay – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 1997

John Gimlette, the award-winning travel writer and author of four books, was the winner of the Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing in 1997. The judges of that year, which included Sebastian Faulks, were unanimous in their choice. To learn more about the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, and how you can enter, click here. To read John Gimlette’s recent blog on what winning the prize meant to him, click here.   Pink pigs in Paraguay John Gimlette ALL THAT summer Asuncion had been gripped by a good murder. The body of a 14-year-old boy, horribly mutilated by a blow-torch, had been discovered in a wealthy suburb. The details of the

Last Morning in Al Hamra – Shiva Naipaul Prize, 1987

The Spectator/ Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing was first awarded in 1987, and its first-ever winner was Hilary Mantel, who has since won the 2009 Booker Prize for Wolf Hall. Below is Hilary’s prize-winning piece on Saudi Arabia; the judges ‘particularly admired her ability to convey not only the discovery of a culture new to her but also the distaste which the discovery aroused’, said then-editor of The Spectator Charles Moore. To learn more about the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, and how you can enter, click here. To read Hilary Mantel’s recent blog on what winning the prize meant to her, click here. Last Morning in Al Hamra

The 2012 Shiva Naipaul prize

When I won the first Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, it was gratifying for me on every level. It helped me find a market for my work in the national press, and gave me the confidence to regard myself as a full-time writer. – Hilary Mantel. The Shiva Naipaul prize is awarded to the writer best able to describe a visit to a foreign place or people. The award will not be for travel writing in the conventional sense, but for the most acute and profound observation of a culture alien to the writer. Such a culture might be found as easily within the writer’s native country as outside it. The

Be ‘unafraid’, Hilary Mantel tells Shiva Naipaul Prize contenders

Hilary Mantel has just been long-listed for the Booker Prize for Bring Up the Bodies, her brilliant follow-up to Wolf Hall, which netted the coveted Booker itself in 2009. We at The Spectator can’t trumpet this enough – you see, Hilary was the first-ever winner of our Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize in 1987. The prize, awarded for ‘the most acute and profound observation of a culture alien to the writer’, is named after the author of Fireflies and North of South, the late younger brother of VS Naipaul. In 2007, we thought we’d be giving our last-ever Shiva Naipaul award, but we have decided to revive the annual prize, which this year will be judged by