“She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body.”
That’s a line from Naomi Alderman’s book The Power, the only novel to appear on this year’s longlist for the Orwell Book Prize for political writing.
It imagines a world in which almost every woman suddenly develops the ability to electrocute people at will – “from a tiny tingle all the way to full electro-death”.
On her website, Alderman says her “feminist science-fiction” novel explores what would happen if women had the power to cause pain and destruction.
‘Clear and calm perspective’ on Britain
Fourteen books in total – including works on Brexit, FGM and the impact of the Hillsborough disaster – are in the running for the £3,000 award.
The prize is named after George Orwell, whose dystopian classic 1984 re-entered the book charts earlier this year.
Other books on the list include All Out War, Tim Shipman’s contemporary history of the EU referendum campaign; and Black and British, in which David Olusoga charts the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa.
Also in the running is Hibo Wardere’s memoir Cut, about female genital mutilation in Britain.
Revealing the longlist, the judges said it offered “a clear and calm perspective on Britain and its place in the world”.
The shortlist will be announced on 15 May, and the winner on Thursday 8 June.
The longlist for The Orwell Prize for Books 2017 is:
- The Power by Naomi Alderman (Viking)
- Citizen Clem by John Bew (Quercus)
- The Seven by Ruth Dudley Edwards (Oneworld)
- The Return by Hisham Matar (Viking)
- Black and British by David Olusoga (Macmillan)
- The Life Project by Helen Pearson (Allen Lane)
- Easternisation by Gideon Rachman (The Bodley Head)
- All Out War by Tim Shipman (HarperCollins UK)
- The Marches by Rory Stewart (Vintage, Jonathan Cape)
- Island Story by JD Taylor (Repeater)
- And the Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany (Faber & Faber)
- Enough Said by Mark Thompson (The Bodley Head)
- Cut by Hibo Wardere, in collaboration with Anna Wharton (Simon & Schuster)
- Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge (Guardian Faber)