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LONDON: 19 December 2012: Hedley Twidle, a 32-year old South African university lecturer, has beaten more than 400 entrants to win the inaugural Financial Times and The Bodley Head non-fiction essay competition. His work, ‘Getting past Coetzee’, deals with the influence of the Booker-winning novelist on Twidle’s life and work in Cape Town.
Stuart Williams, publisher at The Bodley Head and chairman of the five-strong judging panel, said of Twidle’s essay: “Our winner writes thrillingly about JM Coetzee, in ways that both illuminate his novels and reimagines the essay form itself. His essay fizzes with intellectual and stylistic energy.”
Twidle wins £1,000, publication of his work in the Financial Times Life & Arts section on December 29th, and as a free digital short with The Bodley Head; plus a mentoring session with The Bodley Head and FT editors.
Two runners-up, Raghu Karnad, 29, from India, in second place, and Frances Leech, 25, from the UK, who came in third, will also see their essays published as The Bodley Head free digital shorts in January 2013.
Leech’s essay ‘Kitchen Rhythm’ vividly chronicles her work as an apprentice patissier in Paris; while Karnad’s ‘Everybody’s Friend’, a personal journey through the forgotten history of India’s World War II soldiers, will appear in the FT alongside Twidle’s.
Dan Franklin, digital publisher, Random House, said: “The winner and runners-up showed a level of assurance and originality that stood out a mile.”
Caroline Daniel, editor, FT Weekend, said: “We were on the lookout for some younger talent to bring into the FT. The shortlist introduced us to writers we might never otherwise have come across, and whom we’d be keen to commission in the future.”
The Bodley Head/ FT competition to find talented young voices in global non-fiction writing was launched in September 2012 with an essay by Simon Schama on ‘Why I write’ in the FT’s Life & Arts section. Entrants aged 35 or under were asked to write up to 3,500 words on any subject that interested them, and there were submissions on topics as diverse as scarecrows, NGOs and American imperialism. These were whittled down to a shortlist of eight.
The five judges, who met in London earlier this month to choose the winner and two runners-up, were Simon Schama (professor of art history and history at Columbia University and an FT contributing editor); Stuart Williams (publisher, The Bodley Head); Dan Franklin (digital publisher, Random House group); Caroline Daniel (editor, Financial Times Weekend) and Lucy Tuck (editor, Financial Times Life & Arts).
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About The Bodley Head:
The Bodley Head, an imprint of Random House UK, publishes a distinguished list of non-fiction books by writers who are expert in their field on subjects including science, politics, history, music and economics. Its authors include Karen Armstrong, Misha Glenny, Jeffrey Sachs, Simon Schama, Jonathan Powell and Roger Penrose.