The 2023 Non-Fiction Shortlist

The Passengers

Will Ashon

Faber & Faber

Between October 2018 and March 2021, Will Ashon collected voices – people talking about their lives, needs, dreams, loves, hopes and fears. He used a range of methods including letters sent to random addresses, hitchhiking, referrals from strangers and so on. The resulting testimonies tell the collective story of what it feels like to be alive in a particular time and place – here and now. 

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In Love

Amy Bloom


In 2020, Amy Bloom travelled with her husband Brian to Switzerland, where he was helped by Dignitas to end his life, while she sat with him and held his hand. In Love is Bloom’s intimate account of losing Brian: from his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s and the slow onset of the disease, through to her becoming a widow. It is a passionate outpouring of love, and a moving reflection on the enduring power of a marriage.

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The Escape Artist

Jonathan Freedland

John Murray

In April 1944 nineteen-year-old Rudolf Vrba and fellow inmate Fred Wetzler became two of the first Jews ever to break out of Auschwitz. Crawling under electrified fences and past armed watchtowers, evading thousands of SS men and their dogs, they trekked across marshlands, mountains and rivers to freedom. Vrba’s mission: to reveal to the world the truth of the Holocaust.  The knowledge he brought to light would eventually save over 200,000 lives. After the war, he kept running – from his past, from his home country, from his adopted country, even from his own name. Few knew of the truly extraordinary deed he had done.

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Constructing a Nervous System

Margo Jefferson


In Constructing a Nervous System, Margo Jefferson shatters herself into pieces to examine each influence, love and passion that has thrilled and troubled her and made up her sense of self as a person and as a writer – her family, jazz luminaries, dancers, writers, lovers, artists, athletes and stars. Infused with the criticism that she is known for, Jefferson interrogates race, class, family, art and identity as well as the act of writing memoir, and probes fissures at the centre of American cultural life.

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The Social Distance Between Us

Darren McGarvey

Ebury Press

Why are the rich getting richer while the poor only get poorer? How is it possible that in a wealthy, civilised democracy cruelty and inequality are perpetuated by our own public services? And how come, if all the best people are in all the top jobs, Britain is such an unmitigated bin fire? Writer, performer and activist Darren McGarvey takes us on a journey through a divided Britain in search of answers. Here, our latter-day Orwell exposes the true scale of Britain’s social ills and reveals why our current political class, those tasked with bringing solutions, are so distanced from our lived experience that they are the last people you’d want fighting your corner.

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