Pascale Petit wins RSL Ondaatje Prize 2018

Pascale Petit, left, receives her award
Pascale Petit, left, receives her award

The annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place has been won by Poetry Society Member Pascale Petit for Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books). This is the first time poetry has won the Prize.


“I’m absolutely thrilled to win this particular prize for a book evoking the spirit of a place. I’ve been obsessed with the Amazon rainforest for 25 years, and I poured that obsession into Mama Amazonica. The Amazon has become my mother, in all her abused glory, and through that eco-system I am able to love an estranged and mentally ill parent. I’ve travelled to the Amazon four times, and recently stayed in a research centre deep in the Peruvian pristine jungle, and have observed at close hand how scientists are recording species as they vanish. It was there I saw a jaguar in his home!”

This year’s judges are Tahmima Anam, Eva Hoffman and Daljit Nagra.

Daljit Nagra said:

“Rarely has the personal and environmental lament found such imaginative fusion, such outlandish and shocking expression that is at once spectacularly vigorous, intimate and heartbroken.”

The other shortlisted authors were:

  • Kushanava Choudhury The Epic City (Bloomsbury Circus)
  • Xiaolu Guo Once Upon a Time in the East (Chatto & Windus)
  • Lucy Hughes-Hallett Peculiar Ground (4th Estate)
  • Kapka Kassabova Border (Granta)
  • Fiona Mozley Elmet (JM Originals)

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16 May 2018