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Ian Thomson collects Ondaatje Prize

26th May 2010

The Royal Society of Literature has awarded its prestigious Ondaatje Prize to Ian Thomson.

Thomson's The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica saw off a 'remarkable' shortlist to claim the GBP 10,000 prize, which is awarded to a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best conveys the spirit of a place.

Poet Kathleen Jamie, Professor Steve Jones and author Penelope Lively, who together made up the judging panel, praised the author's 'educative and evocative' writing about Jamaica.

'The island he describes is a place of verdant beauty, history-ridden, post-colonial with an undertow of disappointment and violence. This is the best kind of travel writing,' they said.

Other works shortlisted for this year's Ondaatje Prize included The Shadow of a Smile by Kachi A. Ozumba, Iain Sinclair's Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire and Madeleine Bunting's The Plot.

The Music Room by William Fiennes and Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders also missed out on the honour.

A review of The Dead Yard in the Daily Telegraph claimed the book provides a 'thought-provoking insight' into life in modern day Jamaica, but suggested Thomson could have included more of the history of sport, especially cricket, on the island.

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