RSL Ondaatje Prize

The annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place.

RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 RSL Ondaatje Prize is Pascale Petit for Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books). This is the first time poetry has won the Prize. Please read the RSL Ondaatje – Winner Press Release 2018 for more information.

I’m absolutely thrilled to win this particular prize for a book evoking the spirit of a place. I’ve been obsessed with the Amazon rainforest for 25 years, and I poured that obsession into Mama Amazonica. The Amazon has become my mother, in all her abused glory, and through that eco-system I am able to love an estranged and mentally ill parent. I’ve travelled to the Amazon four times, and recently stayed in a research centre deep in the Peruvian pristine jungle, and have observed at close hand how scientists are recording species as they vanish. It was there I saw a jaguar in his home!
Pascale Petit

The other shortlisted authors:

  • Kushanava Choudhury The Epic City (Bloomsbury Circus)
  • Xiaolu Guo Once Upon a Time in the East (Chatto & Windus)
  • Lucy Hughes-Hallett Peculiar Ground (4th Estate)
  • Kapka Kassabova Border (Granta)
  • Fiona Mozley Elmet (JM Originals)

This year’s judges are Tahmima Anam, Eva Hoffman and Daljit Nagra.

Press enquiries should be sent to Annette Brook, Communications Manager: or call 020 7845 4680.

The winner will be announced on Monday 14 May.


Past Awards

2017Francis SpuffordGolden Hill
2016Peter PomerantsevNothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia
2015Justin MarozziBaghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood
2014Alan JohnsonThis Boy
2013Philip HensherScenes from Early Life
2012Rahul BhattacharyaThe Sly Company of People Who Care
2011Edmund de WaalThe Hare with Amber Eyes
2010Ian ThomsonThe Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica
2009Adam NicolsonSissinghurst: An Unfinished History
2008Graham RobbThe Discovery of France
2007Hisham MatarIn the Country of Men
2006James MeekThe People’s Act of Love
2005Rory StewartThe Places In Between
2004Louisa WaughHearing Birds Fly