We’re pleased to announce that Francesca Stavrakopoulou has been awarded the annual PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2022. The Prize of £2,000, endowed by former PEN member Marjorie Hessell-Tiltman’s bequest, celebrates the best non-fiction on any historical subject.
God: An Anatomy (Picador) challenges the common vision of the Abrahamic God as an incorporeal figure in the sky; Stavrakopoulou’s forensic and vivid examination of Yahweh’s origins reveals a ruddy-cheeked, curly-haired and extremely masculine deity. The judges said: ‘Exploring God from head to toe, God: An Anatomy is a revelatory and brilliant examination of the emergence of monotheism written with real verve and vitality.’
This year, judges have also chosen to give an honourable mention to Raphael Cormack for his book, Midnight in Cairo: The Female Stars of Egypt’s Roaring ’20s (Saqi Books). The panel said: ‘Midnight in Cairo is a beautiful gem that deserves a special honour. It sheds an important light on the role of entertainers and women in particular advancing rights in Cairo in the earliest part of the 20th century.’
The judging panel for the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2022 is chaired by Professor Olivette Otele. She is joined by author Dr Emma Southon, and author and editor, Will Rees.
Chair of the judging panel, Professor Olivette Otele, said:
‘The breadth and depth of God: An Anatomy simply amazed us. This outstanding book challenges and enhances our perception of a deity, the Bible and even the representation of masculinity.’
Dr Emma Southon said:
‘God: An Anatomy is not only a magnificent work of paradigm shifting scholarship, it is also entertaining, rich and full of pleasures. Both a joy to read and to learn from, it is an outstanding work.’
Will Rees said:
‘God: An Anatomy is a monumental achievement, a work of impressive Biblical scholarship that also reveals how, even in societies where God is supposed dead, we continue to live under the shadow cast by his huge – and very physical – corpse.’
Zoe Sadler, Events and Prizes Manager, English PEN, said:
‘Our heartfelt congratulations to Francesca Stavrakopoulou who has won the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2022. God: An Anatomy is an extraordinarily rigorous and endlessly curious exploration of a very little discussed (but widely imagined) subject. Congratulations Francesca, and to all our shortlisted authors.’