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 2019

We are now open for submissions for the sixteenth year of the prize. Any full-length work of fiction or non-fiction, or volume of poetry, which evokes the spirit of a place, and which is written by a citizen of the UK, Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland or a writer who has been resident in the UK for three years, is eligible. Books may be entered only by publishers based in the United Kingdom.

Publishers wishing to enter a book should please download the application form, which contains full eligibility criteria and submission details.

Entries should be sent to
Paula Johnson
The Royal Society of Literature
Somerset House, Strand
London WC2R 1LA

The closing date for entries is Wednesday 12 December 2018. 

The 2019 judges will be announced shortly.


RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018

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.
Pascale Petit


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

Past Awards

2018Pascale PetitMama Amazonica
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