On Monday 8 April, we unveiled the longlist for the 2024 RSL Ondaatje Prize. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the prize, which was instituted in 2004 to celebrate outstanding works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best evoke the spirit of a place.

‘Place has always been important to me as a writer, and I’ve loved the brilliant variety of its imaginative reflections in the longlist,’ says Francis Spufford, who judged the prize alongside Jan Carson and Xiaolu Guo. They whittled down 194 entries in selecting their longlist of fourteen authors.

Jan Carson says: ‘Judging the RSL Ondaatje Prize has been a fantastic opportunity to discover some wonderful writers I’d never previously encountered. I’ve spent my winter in glorious hibernation, reading an incredible range of thought-provoking, wise and timely books. I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.’

Xiaolu Guo says: ‘It has been a rich and intense experience reading all the wonderful nominations for this year. It is hard to make a longlist, even harder a shortlist. All I can say is that my mind has been nourished by my fellow writers, by the familiar and unfamiliar voices, those from near and far, which have expanded my imagination’s horizon.’

The 2024 RSL Ondaatje longlist is:

The Britannias – Alice Albinia

Falling Animals – Sheila Armstrong

Thunderclap – Laura Cumming

Local Interest – Emily Hasler

Nothing Ever Just Disappears – Diarmuid Hester

Enter Ghost – Isabella Hammad

In Search of Berlin – John Kampfner

A Flat Place – Noreen Masud

Cuddy – Benjamin Myers

No Man’s Land – David Nash

Fassbinder, Thousands of Mirrors – Ian Penman

Wandering Souls – Cecile Pin

Two Lights – James Roberts

Elowen – William Henry Searle

The 2024 RSL Ondaatje Prize Shortlist will be announced on 26 April, with the winner announced on 14 May.