David Graeber’s ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ wins the first ever Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing

3 May

Bread and RosesIn the centenary year of the infamous Bread and Roses strike, the Alliance of Radical Booksellers is proud to announce the winner of the first annual Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing. David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years clinched the prize in the final hour, following a reported deadlock between the guest judges.

 

Debt, by David Graeber (new cover featuring Bread and Roses flash)The judges felt that this brilliantly researched book was

engaging, readable, relevant, motivated by a clear political will, and utterly indispensable, not only for understanding the terms of the world we live in, where they came from, but also for what we do about changing them.

Although academic in its scope and scale, the judges commended Graeber for the quality of the language, and effort to make the ideas accessible and readily comprehensible.

Treasure Islands by Nicholas ShaxsonGraeber’s book narrowly came through after judges struggled to pick a winner between it and Nicholas Shaxson’s Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the men who stole the world, which they commended for its thoroughness of research, and ‘usefulness’ in the current political climate.

 

 

Nina Power

Nina Power announcing the award winner

The winner was announced at a ceremony on International Workers’ Day, 1st May 2012, at the trade union-run Bread and Roses pub in Clapham. The pub is currently in the middle of a season of cultural events celebrating the centenary of the Bread and Roses strike.

Although based in London and holding the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, David Graeber was unable to collect the prize as he is currently on a research trip in the United States. Bill Godber from Turnaround distributors collected the award and the prize money of £1,000 on his behalf.

Bill Godber collected the prize on David Graeber's behalf

Bill Godber collected the prize on David Graeber’s behalf

The Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing aims to promote the publication of radical books, to raise the profile of radical publishing, and to reward exceptional work. Without being too prescriptive in defining ‘radical’, the shortlisted books are informed by socialist, anarchist, environmental, feminist and anti-racist concerns, and primarily will inspire, support or report on political and/or personal change. They may relate to global, national, local or specialist areas of interest. To be eligible books must have been published in 2011, and the author’s or editor’s primary residence must be in the UK.

This year’s Bread and Roses award was judged by children’s novelist and poet Michael Rosen, lecturer and feminist author Nina Power, and Festival Director of Liverpool’s annual Writing on the Wall Festival, Madeline Heneghan.

Quotes from the Bread and Roses judges

Announcing the winner on behalf of the judging panel, Nina Power said:

The winner of the first Bread and Roses prize for Radical Publishing has written a text that breaks many rules, and does so excellently in each case: this is a book that covers so much material, refers to so many historical periods and geographical spaces, that the reader is dazzled – not only by the easy erudition of the writer but about how much it is possible to learn and with so little pain.

It’s a book that has the appearance – and at 534 pages, literally so – of a fearsome academic tract. But it avoids everything that frequently plagues academic writing: this book is instead engaging, readable, relevant, motivated by a clear political will and utterly indispensable not only for understanding the terms of the world we live in, where they came from, but also for what we do about changing them. It is a book written from the heart, albeit with the aid of a library the size of a palace – a people’s palace, that is!

Nik Gorecki, Nina Power, Mandy Vere

Nik Gorecki (Housmans Bookshop), Nina Power, Mandy Vere (News from Nowhere)

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