Justin Marozzi, expert commentator on ISIS and the Middle East, has won the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize for his book “Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood”. The £10,000 award goes to the book – fiction, non-fiction or poetry – that best evokes the “spirit of a place”.
Praised by judges as a “truly monumental achievement”, the book offers a history of Baghdad that ranges from its 15th-century sacking by Tamerlane to the invasion by American troops in 2003. The former foreign correspondent beat titles by authors including Elif Shafak, Helen Dunmore and Rana Dasgupta.
On receiving the prize, Justin said:
“I am deeply honoured and completely thrilled to have been awarded the RSL’s Ondaatje Prize. Living and working in Baghdad – and writing about the city – have taken up much of the past decade during an extraordinary time in the history of a city that has surely known more violence than any other and yet which once was the capital of world civilisation. If there is one lesson to be learned from the turbulent history of Baghdad and the current turmoil of the Middle East, it is that tolerance and cosmopolitanism are the only hope.”
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