January 23, 2009 / 12:08 AM / 10 years ago

Scientist vs music critic in UK Warwick book prize

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A scientist, a music critic and a journalist are up against three novelists on the shortlist for Britain’s Warwick Prize for Writing, a 50,000 pound ($70,000) award to be given out once every two years.

The international award can go to any “substantial” piece of writing in the English language, including works in translation, and the 2009 lineup includes “Montano’s Malady” by Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas.

The novel takes readers on a voyage to European cities and South American ports, as the author-narrator struggles to distinguish between reality and the fictional worlds of the books he reads.

Should Vila-Matas win the inaugural award at a ceremony at the University of Warwick, central England, on February 24, 30 percent of the prize money will go to Jonathan Dunne, who translated Montano’s Malady.

Another nominated novelist is Polish-born Lisa Appignanesi, whose “Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800” explores how the treatment of women suffering from mental illness contributed to our understanding of the condition and its treatment.

American novelist Francisco Goldman is on the shortlist for a work of non-fiction — “The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed Bishop Gerardi?,” about the investigation into the murder of Guatemalan bishop Juan Gerardi, a human rights activist.

He was bludgeoned to death in 1998, shortly after releasing the report “Guatemala: Never Again,” which blamed the military for most of the 200,000 deaths during a 36-year civil war that ended with peace accords in 1996.

U.S. theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman appears for “Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion,” which proposes that the natural universe contains a ceaseless creativity that cannot be predicted.

It is this creativity, and not a supernatural “Creator God,” that should be viewed as divine.

Canadian journalist and author Naomi Klein has been nominated for “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” in which she argues that moments of crisis are used to usher in radical social and economic change.

Rounding off the list is U.S. music critic Alex Ross. His book “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century” is a tour of 20th century classical music.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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