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
– call for submissions

We are now open for entries for the fifteenth RSL Ondaatje Prize.

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

Closing date for entries 11 December 2017.

The 2018 Judges are Tahmima Anam, Eva Hoffman and Daljit Nagra.

Queries regarding entering books should be sent to Martha Stenhouse, Membership, Awards and Office Co-ordinator: or call 020 7845 4679.
Press enquiries should be sent to Annette Brook, Communications Manager, or call 020 7845 4680.


RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017

The RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017 was awarded to Francis Spufford for Golden Hill. For more information on the winner please see our press release.

Place has always been central to my work, so I’m delighted to win this prize of all prizes.  The 18th century New York of my book had to be conjured from maps and analogies and a few contemporary pictures, supported by walks round and round Lower Manhattan with my eyes fixed on the pavements rather than the skyscrapers.  It’s a joy to find that what I built in my head seems solid enough for others to walk in, in their imaginations.

Francis Spufford on winning the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017

The other books shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017:

  • Amy Liptrot The Outrun (Canongate)
  • Rebecca Mackenzie In a Land of Paper Gods (Tinder Press)
  • Kei Miller Augustown (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Barney Norris Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain (Black Swan)
  • Rose Tremain The Gustav Sonata (Chatto & Windus)

The 2017 judges were Alexandra HarrisHenry Hitchings and Mimi Khalvati.

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