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Katherine Rundell, Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne & Osman Yousefzada, The Go-Between: A Portrait of Growing Up Between Different Worlds win the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2022

Katherine Rundell and Osman Yousefzada win The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2022

Slightly Foxed and The Biographers’ Club are delighted to announce that the joint winners of the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2022, chosen by judges Alan Samson, Lucy Scholes and Anne Sebba, are Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell and The Go-Between: A Portrait of Growing Up Between Different Worlds by Osman Yousefzada.

The Winners

Katherine Rundell is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Her bestselling books for children, including Rooftoppers, The Explorer and, most recently, The Golden Mole, have been translated into more than thirty languages and have won multiple awards. Rundell is also the author of a book for adults, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise, and has written for the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Times.

John Donne was the great poet of desire, death and God, and Katherine Rundell’s muscular, red-blooded life, Super-Infinite, is a passionate book about a passionate man. His life was indeed a series of transformations: rake, lawyer, lover, jailbird, husband, failed diplomat, Dean of St Paul’s. Rundell’s bracing plunge into Donne’s world and the riches of his language is unforgettable.

Artist and writer Osman Yousefzada studied at SOAS and Central Saint Martins, and has an MPhil from Cambridge University. He has been showcased at the Whitechapel Gallery and the V&A among others and made clothes for Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Lupita Nyong’o, and many more. He edits The Collective, has written for Vogue, the Guardian and Observer, and is currently a research practitioner at the Royal College of Art and visiting fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge.

Set in Birmingham in the ’80s and ’90s, The Go-Between opens a window on a devout, patriarchal Pakistani community in the centre of the city’s red-light district. By turns humorous, melancholy and harrowing, this account of competing models of masculinity, female erasure and friendship takes us from Birmingham to Pakistan and back to the London of Osman’s teenage years.

‘Katherine Rundell’s Super-Infinite quivers and shimmers with animation. It’s lively and playful, heartfelt
and intelligent. In essence, everything one hopes a great biography will be. The magic of The Go-Between lies
in Osman Yousefzada’s masterful evocation of the unknowing but ever watchful child’s eye view of the world.
His growing awareness of the fault lines that fracture the community in which he grew up lend this
memoir an often mournful but distinctly elegiac beauty.’
Lucy Scholes, 2022 Prize Judge


View press release

About the Prize

The Prize is awarded to the best book published by a first-time biographer or memoirist. The 2021 winner was announced on 8 March 2022. This is the eighth year of the literary quarterly and independent publisher Slightly Foxed’s sponsorship of the Biographers’ Club Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, with a winner’s award of £2,500. Previous winners: Lea Ypi, Free; Heather Clark, Red Comet; Jonathan Phillips, The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin; Bart van Es, The Cut Out Girl; Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter; Hisham Matar, The Return; Alan Cumming, Not My Father’s Son; Claudia Renton, Those Wild Wyndhams; Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher; Thomas Penn, Winter King; and Matthew Hollis, Now All Roads Lead to France.

2022 Shortlist

2022 Judges

  • Alan Samson is former Chairman and Non-Fiction Publisher of Weidenfeld & Nicolson and the publisher of numerous celebrated biographies and memoirs.
  • Lucy Scholes is Senior Editor at McNally Editions, a series of paperbacks devoted to hidden gems, and author of ‘Re-Covered’, a column for the Paris Review about forgotten books and their authors.
  • Anne Sebba is the prize-winning author of eleven books, mostly biographies of iconic women including Mother Teresa, Laura Ashley, Wallis Simpson, Jennie Churchill and Ethel Rosenberg.

Slightly Foxed

Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly and its acclaimed list of classic limited-edition memoirs have become something of an institution in the literary world. Contributors to the magazine include: Diana Athill, Quentin Blake, Ronald Blythe, Margaret Drabble, Adam Foulds, Melissa Harrison, Michael Holroyd, Amy Liptrot, Penelope Lively, Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Dervla Murphy, Sarah Perry, Olivia Potts, Jane Ridley, Christopher Rush, Posy Simmonds, Adam Sisman, Ali Smith and Jacqueline Wilson

‘A great favourite is the brilliant quarterly Slightly Foxed. For the sort of people who carry ancient Penguins in their pockets and, incidentally, a great present for those who love books.’ Financial Times

‘The arrival of a new issue of Slightly Foxed makes me drop everything. I read it from cover to cover and it immediately sends me off to order a number of the books that it features. Slightly Foxed is a brilliant idea, beautifully realized.’  Alexander McCall Smith

‘Can I just say how much I enjoy Slightly Foxed – it gives me immense pleasure and frequently introduces me to a new author or reminds me about an old favourite.’ Jacqueline Wilson

The Slightly Foxed series of memoirs includes works by: Edward Ardizzone, Roald Dahl, Gerald Durrell, Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Graham Greene, Helene Hanff, Laurie Lee, James Lees-Milne, Hilary Mantel, Gavin Maxwell, Jessica Mitford, Eric Newby, V. S. Pritchett, Gwen Raverat, Dodie Smith and Rosemary Sutcliff

‘Boy, are they beautiful: gorgeous cover, gorgeous typography, gorgeous paper, gorgeous feel in the hand. They are gems. You put an inordinate amount of effort into coaxing this book into being. I can’t thank you enough for your time, your care, your patience, your kindness, and your perfect taste.’ Anne Fadiman


For more information about Slightly Foxed, Katherine Rundell’s Super-Infinite and Osman Yousefzada’s The Go-Between, or the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize please contact:

Steph Allen/Hattie Summers
[email protected]
020 7729 9368; +44 20 7729 9368

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