Readersforum's Blog

May 20, 2013

Hensher wins Ondaatje Prize

Philip Hensher

Philip Hensher

| By Charlotte Williams

Philip Hensher’s Scenes from an Early Life (Fourth Estate) has won the £10,000 2013 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.

The book, a semi-fictional account of the childhood of Hensher’s Bengali husband, was praised as “an unostentatious tour de force” by judge Margaret Drabble. Author Julia Blackburn, another judge, said: “Hensher performs a fascinating act of ventriloquism, taking on the voice of his Bangladeshi husband, who was born in Dacca in 1970, when East Pakistan was on the edge of fighting a bloody war of independence. Maybe it is the fact of being an outsider, while at the same time being intimately connected with his narrator, that enabled Hensher to describe the hubbub of a country’s political transition with such immediacy; we enter an unfamiliar world with him and smell and taste and hear it on all sides.”

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