RSL Ondaatje Prize

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

The 2024 Prize

We are now closed for entries. Congratulations to the 2024 winner Ian Penman for Fassbinder: Thousands of Mirrors.  Thank you to this year’s judges Jan Carson, Xiaolu Guo and Francis Spufford. 


First awarded in 2004, the premise and broad remit of the Prize creates unique lists of outstanding works and authors that you would not usually find sitting side by side. We are grateful to Sir Christopher Ondaatje for sponsoring the Prize.

Past Winners

2024 Ian Penman Fassbinder Thousands Of Mirrors
2023 Anthony Anaxagorou Heritage Aesthetics
2022 Lea Ypi Free
2021 Ruth Gilligan  The Butchers
2020 Roger Robinson A Portable Paradise
2019 Aida Edemariam The Wife’s Tale: A Personal History
2018 Pascale Petit Mama Amazonica
2017 Francis Spufford Golden Hill
2016 Peter Pomerantsev Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
2015 Justin Marozzi Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood
2014 Alan Johnson This Boy
2013 Philip Hensher Scenes from Early Life
2012 Rahul Bhattacharya The Sly Company of People Who Care
2011 Edmund de Waal The Hare with Amber Eyes
2010 Ian Thomson The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica
2009 Adam Nicolson Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History
2008 Graham Robb The Discovery of France
2007 Hisham Matar In the Country of Men
2006 James Meek The People’s Act of Love
2005 Rory Stewart The Places In Between
2004 Louisa Waugh Hearing Birds Fly

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Our Members are champions of literature. Their support makes our engagement work in schools and prisons possible and they enable us to celebrate literature in all its wonderful diversity. As a thank you, we give them all the joys of a literary festival and book club rolled into one, all year round.