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Dolman Travel Book Award

2013 DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR SPLIT BETWEEN JOINT WINNERS

25.09.13

After a prolonged and ardent final judging session, the 2013 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year has been divided between Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Hamish Hamilton) and Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines (Sort of Books).
Barnaby Rogerson, Chairman of a prestigious judging panel with precisely 113 collective years of writing, editing, publishing and travelling between them, spoke at the award ceremony of the notably impressive level of consistent quality seen across this year’s short-list and the problem of picking one winner. As it transpired, the judges were drawn equally to two particular authors, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Macfarlane, and after four hours of ardent conversation and debate it was agreed that the only thing possible in the circumstances – and for the first time in the history of the prize – was to split the 2013 Dolman Travel Literature Book of the Year, and awarded the accolade to both of them.
“We felt that we had been offered up the strongest shortlist since the Dolman Prize was inaugurated… all five judges found ourselves irresistibly drawn to a pair of books that seemed to shift outwards and extend the scope and boundary of modern travel writing. No longer bogus explorers, pretending to map out our known world. No longer dragging fridges or frigid lovers around the globe. Instead constructing an adventure from what we are tripping over every day, above us, around us, beneath us as well as excavating experienced memories. In truth a journey of just two or three steps, in the company of this unlikely pair of writers, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Macfarlane, elucidated our world and stirred up our imaginations.”

– Barnaby Rogerson, Chairman of  Judges

The full shortlist included:
Looking For Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa (Granta Books)
Meander: East to West Along a Turkish River by Jeremy Seal (Chatto & Windus, Random House)
Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie (Sort of Books)
The Golden Door: Letters to America by A.A. Gill (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane (Hamish Hamilton)
The Robber of Memories: A River Journey Through Colombia by Michael Jacobs (Granta Books)
The 2013 judging panel was headed up by leading British travel author and publisher Barnaby Rogerson, and including Sarah Spankie: Deputy Editor, Condé Nast Traveller; Mary Novakovich: freelance journalist and travel writer; Peter Hughes: Travel Writer and Amy Sohanpaul: Editor of Traveller magazine. The prize was awarded on 24th September at an evening reception at Hatchards Piccadilly.

For further information please contact Wol Balston at Flint Public Relations, wol.balston@flint-pr.com, 0203 463 2080

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DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013
SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED

09.07.13

The 2013 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year shortlist was today confirmed as the following:

  • Looking For Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa (Granta Books)
  • Meander: East to West Along a Turkish River by Jeremy Seal (Chatto & Windus, Random House)
  • Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie (Sort of Books)
  • The Golden Door: Letters to America by A.A. Gill (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane (Hamish Hamilton)
  • The Robber of Memories: A River Journey Through Colombia by Michael Jacobs (Granta Books)

Chairman of the judging panel Barnaby Rogerson said:

“Judging was very animated. The entire panel are deeply committed to travel writing, so strong opinions were expressed on everything. The judges have an enormous collective experience of the world, and its travel writers, but all this prior knowledge is put to one side, so the submitted books have been judged solely on the quality of the text, with no reference to past works or past deeds.

“The 2013 Dolman Travel Book of the Year submissions have yielded a very strong field, provoking fierce arguments to get it down to this six. However we all took great pleasure in the process, and most of the panel have already read the shortlist through their own enthusiasm as readers, so one could already tell this will be a fierce battle to the finish…”

The 2013 judging panel is headed up by leading British travel author and publisher Barnaby Rogerson, and includes:

Sarah Spankie, Deputy Editor, Conde Nast Traveller
Mary Novakovich, freelance journalist and travel writer
Amy Sohanpaul, Editor, Traveller Magazine
Peter Hughes,  travel writer, Daily Telegraph

The winner will be announced on 24th September at an evening reception at Hatchards Piccadilly.

The Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award
First launched in 2006, the Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year is the only UK travel writing award, and has attracted top travel writers from around the world. The prize looks for works of literary merit that show excellence in the tradition of great travel writing, combining a personal journey with the discovery or recovery of places, landscapes or peoples to instil a sense of place, excitement and wonder in the reader. The 2012 Dolman Travel Book of the Year was awarded to John Gimlette for his book Wild Coast (Profile Books, 2011).

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DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013

The Authors’ Club is now accepting submissions for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award 2013. This award is sponsored by a past chairman, Dr William Dolman, and is presented annually for the best travel book first published in Great Britain in the English language during the preceding year (2012).

The shortlist will be announced at the end of May 2013 and the winner will be presented the £2500 Award at a reception held in early September (dates etc to follow) to which finalists and publishers will be invited.

Judging panel 2013

Barnaby Rogerson, Publisher, Eland Books – Chairman
Sarah Spankie, Deputy Editor, Conde Nast Traveller
Mary Novakovich, Travel Writer
Amy Sohanpaul, Editor, Traveller Magazine
Peter Hughes,  Travel Writer, Daily Telegraph

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JOHN GIMLETTE WINS AUTHORS’ CLUB DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR
06.09.12

Winning author John Gimlette with the award’s sponsor Bill Dolman

John Gimlette, author of Wild Coast (Profile Books) has won the 2012 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year. He was awarded the £2500 prize by Bill Dolman himself (a former chairman of the Authors’ Club) at an award ceremony held in Hatchards, Piccadilly.
Wild Coast was one of a shortlist of six, and was decided in the final minutes in a private judging session held down the road at the 5th floor bar in Waterstones. The Chairman of the judges, and founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler said of Wild Coast:
“Writing that races you through faster than you can turn the pages, a story that transports you to a place you barely knew about before, and all done with a relaxed nonchalance which totally disregards the tough travels John Gimlette’s Dolman Award winner clearly involved. Before reading ‘Wild Coast’ my Guianas knowledge could be summarised as ‘don’t drink the Kool-Aid, don’t end up on Devil’s Island, but do go there for an Ariane space launch.’ I’m way better informed today.
John Gimlette was genuinely surprised to win the prestigious award, and in front of a fully capacity crowd that included such luminaries as travel writer Colin Thubron (also shortlisted) and the Independent’s travel editor Simon Calder, Gimlette was modest and gracious in accepting the prize.
The full shortlist included:

  • Harlem is Nowhere, by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Granta)
  • Thin Paths: Journeys in and around an Italian Village, by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
  • To a Mountain in Tibet, by Colin Thubron (Vintage)
  • To the River: a Journey Beneath the Surface, by Olivia Laing (Canongate)
  • White Fever, by Jacek Hugo-Bader (Portobello)
  • Wild Coast, by John Gimlette (Profile Books)

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DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR 2012 SHORT LIST ANNOUNCED
08.08.12
The 2012 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year short list was today confirmed as the following:

  • Harlem is Nowhere, by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Granta)
  • Thin Paths; journeys in and around an Italian Village, by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
  • To a Mountain in Tibet, by Colin Thubron (Vintage)
  • To the River: a Journey Beneath the Surface, by Olivia Laing (Canongate)
  • White Fever, by Jacek Hugo-Bader (Portobello)
  • Wild Coast, by John Gimlette (Profile Books)

Traditionally the Dolman Travel Book of the Year shortlist is limited to 5 entries, but this year there was an unresolvable dispute between two of the titles, and so it was agreed to feature an additional 6th. The full panel of 2012 judges include Tony Wheeler: Founder, Lonely Planet; Sarah Spankie: Deputy Editor,
CondeNast Traveller; Susie Dowdall: Books Editor, Daily Mail; Chris Moss: freelance travel literature reviewer; and Rachel Polonsky: Winner of 2011 Dolman Travel Book of the Year.
The winner will be announced on 5th September at an evening reception at Hatchards, 187 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LE.
Chairman of the 2012 judging panel, and founder of Lonely Planet Tony Wheeler  said:

“This year’s Dolman Travel Book of the Year award is going to be a difficult choice. We have cities and countries, mountains and rivers, driving and walking, but probably most important we have judges with strong opinions on their personal favourites. So it could be strolling the streets of Harlem in New York or walking the
length of the River Ouse in England. Will it be driving to Siberia in a beat up old Soviet era car or exploring the mountain paths around an Italian village? Perhaps circumnavigating a holy mountain in Tibet or exploring the trio of Guyanas in South America? I look forward to finding out on 5 September.”

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The 2012 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year long list was today confirmed as the following:

  • Harlem is Nowhere, by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts (Granta)
  • On Extinction, by Melanie Challenger (Granta)
  • Street Fight in Naples, by Peter Robb (Bloomsbury)
  • The Fetish Room: The Education of a Naturalist, by Redmond O’Hanlon (Profile)
  • Thin Paths: Journeys in and around an Italian Village, by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
  • To a Mountain in Tibet, by Colin Thubron (Vintage)
  • To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface, by Olivia Laing (Canongate)
  • White Fever, by Jacek Hugo-Bader (Portobello)
  • Wild Coast, by John Gimlette (Profile Books)

The 2012 Chairman of judges and founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler, commented: “We have produced a very interesting long list, with well known writers (Colin Thubron and Redmond O’Hanlon) and first timers, cities (New York’s Harlem and Naples) and country. Personally I’m pleased to see there are so many walking books (A Mountain in Tibet and Thin Paths) and that we’ve ventured into some little known (or little written about) corners of the world, Wild Coast is certainly introducing me to those three South American Guianas.”

The shortlist will be announced in early August and the award itself is taking place at Hatchards on 5th September 2012.

Judging panel 2012

  • Tony Wheeler, Founder, Lonely Planet guides
  • Sarah Spankie, Deputy Editor, Condé Nast Traveller
  • Chris Moss, freelance travel literature reviewer
  • Susie Dowdall, Books Editor, Daily Mail
  • Rachel Polonsky, Dolman Prize winner 2011

About the Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award

The Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award is Britain’s only dedicated prize for serious travel literature. The £2500 prize was founded in 2006 by retired coroner and Authors’ Club member, William Dolman (left), after the Thomas Cook Award was abandoned by the tour operator after a run of 20 years. It is open to any travel writer whose book has been first published in Britain, and looks for works of literary merit that show excellence in the tradition of great travel writing, combining a personal journey with the discovery or recovery of places, landscapes or peoples to instil a sense of place, excitement and wonder in the reader.

The shortlist for the 2012 Dolman Prize will be announced on 25 June. The award will be presented to the winner at a reception at Hatchards, 187 Piccadilly, London W1 at 6.30 on 5 September.

 

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Dolman Travel Book of the Year 2011

In a spectacularly close contest the Authors’ Club were pleased to announce the winner of their 2011 Dolman Travel Book of the Year: Molotov’s Magic Lantern by Rachel Polonksy. This was the second year in a row for Faber and editor Neil Beltin who won in 2010 with The Dead Yard by Ian Thomson.

Molotov’s Magic Lantern won from a shortlist of six, which also included:

  • Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich (Portobello Books)
  • Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah’s Beard by Nicolas Jubber (Da Capo Press)
  • Germania by Simon Winder (Picador)
  • Parisians by Graham Robb (Picador)
  • The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers (Shortbooks)

At a superb Authors’ Club party at Hatchards, Piccadilly, Chairman of the Judges Giles Foden who presented the £2,500 prize said:

“Defining genres is always a tricky business and travel writing is always the trickiest of all genres to define. There is something capricious about it, as if the genre itself was on a journey. It was a difficult decision, but the book which we thought best balanced both the traditions of travel writing and new directions it may take, was “Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journal in Russian History” by Rachel Polonsky, in which the discovery of the private library of one of Stalin’s henchmen opens a door on the secrets of Russian culture past and present.”

May 11, 2011

Dolman Prize long-list announced

After much stimulating discussion over lunch at Blacks, the judging panel of the Authors’ Club Dolman travel award have drawn up a long-list of 10 books. With such extraordinarily varied submissions, debate inevitably focused around what actually constitutes a travel book: how ‘present’ does the author have to be, must the narrative be a linear travelogue,  and how intrepid does the journey need to be?

While the longlist contains epic narratives in the classic mould, including Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah’s Beard, by Nicholas Jubber (a previous Dolman Prize winner for The Prester Quest) and Andes, by former chair of judges Michael Jacobs, some of the most stimulating travel writing, such as Rachel Polonski’s extraordinary Molotov’s Magic Lantern, lies at the margins of the genre.

The long-list in full:

  • The Edge of Physics, by Anil Ananthaswamy (Duckworth Overlook)
  • All Kinds of Magic, by Piers Moore Ede (Bloomsbury)
  • Andes, by Michael Jacobs (Granta)
  • Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah’s Beard, by Nicholas Jubber (Da Capo Press)
  • Spirit of the Phoenix, by Tim Llewellen (IB Tauris)
  • Molotov’s Magic Lantern, by Rachel Polonsky (Faber)
  • The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe, by Douglas Rogers (Shortbooks)
  • Dreaming in Hindi, by Katherine Russell Rich (Portobello Books)
  • Parisians, by Graham Robb (Picador)
  • Germania, by Simon Winder (Picador)

The shortlist will be announced on June 9, and the winner at the award ceremony on July 6.

July 7, 2010

Dolman Travel Book of the Year 2010

Last night at the Arts Club, Ian Thomson won the 5th Dolman Travel Book of the Year, as well as a cheque for £2,500 with his latest book The Dead Yard (published by Faber, 7th May 2009).

Described as “thorough and elegant” by The Daily Telegraph, “meticulously researched” by Time Out and “fascinating and frightening” by the Catholic Herald, The Dead Yard was chosen after an impassioned judges debate at Daunt Books, Marylebone, following an event to promote the award and the shortlisted authors.

Brett Wolstencroft, Co-Founder of Daunt Books and a Dolman judge commented:

“With a record number of travel books submitted it was an immense challenge to get over 70 titles down to a short list of seven. With such a high standard of entries the judges found it extremely difficult to select a winning title from the short list, however, in the end, the quality of writing in Ian Thomson’s ‘The Dead Yard’ turned the majority of the panel.” Brett Wolstencroft, Co-founder, Daunt Books 

Travel writer Michael Jacobs, whose epic new book Andes (Granta, 6t May 2010) will undoubtedly be submitted for the 2011 Dolman Travel Book of the Year, presided throughout the award for the third and final time as the Chairman of Judges. Michael was unfortunately unable to attend the event himself on account of being in Bogota, talking about travel literature at one of South America’s leading literary festivals, the Malpensante – an occupational hazard for any award-winning travel writer.

Speaking from South America, he said:

“Ian Thomson’s The Dead Yard is not just a beautifully written and very rich account of a distant place, but also a book of vital importance for the understanding of a major element in contemporary British culture.” Michael Jacobs, Chairman of Judges 

The 2010 short listed titles (in alphabetical order) were:

  • Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker (John Murray)
  • A Single Swallow by Horatio Clare (Chatto & Windus)
  • Eleven Minutes Late by Mathew Engel (Macmillan)
  • Lost and Found in Russia by Susan Richards (I B Tauris & Co)
  • Out of Steppe by Daniel Metcalfe (Hutchinson)
  • Tequila Oil: Getting Lost in Mexico by Hugh Thomson (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • The Dead Yard by Ian Thomson (Faber)

July 4, 2009

Dolman Travel Book of the Year 2009

Debut author, Alice Albinia, has won the Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award for 2009 for her book Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River (John Murray). The prize worth £2500 was awarded at the Authors’ Club summer party by Chairman of the Judges, the travel writer Michael Jacobs.

Empires of the Indus is an ambitious travelogue which follows one of the largest rivers in the world along its 2000-mile course from its source in Tibet, through India and into Pakistan taking in over 5000 years of history along the way.

Michael Jacobs praised Albinia’s assured writing and original approach combining travel and history. He described Empires of the Indus as a great travel book in the classic tradition and said the high quality of all the shortlisted entries demonstrated the continued vitality of travel writing in Britain.

Alice Albinia is a graduate of London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. She spent two years  as a journalist in India before embarking on what was to be an epic journey. Accepting the prize, she spoke about how the journey she took along the Silk Road through the Swat Valley would be impossible now as the Taliban have control of the area.

The 2009 short listed titles (in alphabetical order) were:

  • Alice Albinia: Empires of the Indus (John Murray)
  • Andrew Brown: Fishing In Utopia (Granta)
  • Richard Grant: Bandit Roads (Little Brown)
  • Kapka Kassabova: Street Without a Name (Portobello)
  • Grevel Lindop: Travels on the Dance Floor (Andre Deutsch)
  • Dervla Murphy: The Island that Dared (Eland)

2008

John Lucas beat off stiff competition from other shortlisted authors such as Robert Macfarlane and Tim Butcher to win the prize for his gritty portrait of Athens, 92 Acharnon Street (Eland). John Lucas was Professor of English at Nottingham Trent University. He is a poet and translator, a former poetry editor at the New Statesman and currently runs Shoestring Press.

Anthony Sattin, writing in The Sunday Times, described it as “a wonderful, idiosyncratic view of modern Greece… Sharply observed, passionate and delightfully rambling, it reeks of a love of life, letters and all things Greek.”

  • John Lucas: 92 Acharnon Street (winner)
  • Tim Butcher: Blood River
  • Robert Macfarlane: The Wild Places
  • Henry Hemming: Misadventures in the Middle East
  • Christopher Robbins: In Search of Kazakhstan

2007

  • Claire Scobie: Last Seen in Lhasa (winner)
  • David McKie: Great British Bus Journeys
  • Tom Parry: Thumbs up Australia: Hitchhiking the Outback
  • Rory McCarthy: Nobody Told Us We Were Defeated

2006

  • Nicholas Jubber: The Prester Quest (winner)
  • Ruth Padel: Tigers in Red Weather
  • Joanna Kavenna: The Ice Museum
  • Stevie Smith: Pedalling to Hawaii
  • Richard Lloyd Parry: In the Time of Madness
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