The 2014 Orion Book Award

We’re excited to announce the winners of this year’s Orion Book Award in two categories: in the category of fiction, the award goes to Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam; in the category of nonfiction, the award goes to Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World, by Kathleen Jamie.

Followers of the Orion Book Award might remember that, in years past, the award was given to a single book. This year, we encountered two very different books—which are terrific in very different ways, one a novel and one a collection of essays—and found ourselves confronted with an impossible choice. And so, rather than attempt the impossible, we’re delighted to give the 2014 Orion Book Award twice. (Part of our reasoning here is that, in addition to nonfiction, we’ve seen more outstanding novels that explore the relationship between nature and culture than ever before. As Barbara Kingsolver, a finalist for last year’s award, has said, “This is thrilling territory. These are the novels I’ve wanted to read, all my life, and certainly they’re the ones I want to write.”)

For the novel-hungry readers among us, we can’t recommend more highly MaddAddam, the story of a group of humans and quasi-humans who’ve survived the Waterless Flood, a pandemic in a strange, dystopian future—it’s classic Margaret Atwood. At once imaginative and insightful, MaddAddam offers adventure and humor as well as a picture of what resilience might look like in a ruined world. Read an excerpt from the book here.

If you’re a lover of essays, don’t miss Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines, which is one of the most elegant and awake essay collections we’ve seen all year. From a meditation beneath the aurora borealis to a tour of the landscape of the human cell, Jamie’s ability to see and discover linked meanings and resonances in the natural world is unmatched. “Keep looking,” she says, “even when there’s not much to see.” Read a selection from the book, which appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Orion, here.

The winners of this year’s award were selected by the staff of Orion; over 250 books published in 2013 were considered. Read dispatches about some of the books we considered here; see a list of other books we liked here; and learn more about the Orion Book Award, including its past winners, here.


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