4 JANUARY 1997, Page 21


Shiva Naipaul was one of the most gifted and accomplished writers of our time. After his death in 1985 at the age of 40, The Spectator established an annual prize in his memory. This year, the prize is part-sponsored by Penguin Books. The writer Hilary Mantel recalls the importance to her of winning the first Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize: 'I first read Shiva Naipaul's travel writing when I was living in Botswana. I remember picking up North of South one evening in a bustling Johannes- burg bookshop, and finding that it was the first travel book about Africa to which I could relate my own experience. For me he was a formative writer; his sceptical, questioning work seemed to vindicate my outsider's scorn of expatriate pieties. So when I won the first Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, it was gratifying for me on every level. I had already begun to publish, but this was a big step in my career It helped me to find a market for my work in the national press, and gave me the confidence to regard myself as a frill-time writer., Hilary Mantel The Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize will be awarded to the writer best able to describe a visit to a foreign place or people. The award is not for travel writing in the conventional sense, but for the most acute and profound observation of a culture alien to the writer. Such a culture might be found as easily within the writer's native country as outside it.

The winner will receive a cash prize of £3,000. The winning entry will be published in The Spectator.

Rules 1. The award is open to English language writers of any nationality under the age of 35 on the closing date for entries.

2. Submissions should not previously have been published and should be not more than 4,000 words.

3. Entries must reach The Spectator by 1 March 1997.

4. Entries will not be returned and no correspon- dence concerning entries can be entered into.

5. In all matters concerning the competition the decision of the Editor is final. 6. The judges this year are Sebastian Faulks, Dervla Murphy, Gillon Aitken, Frank Johnson (Editor of The Spectator) and Mark Amory (Literary Editor of The Spectator).

Entry Procedure 1. Entries should be typed double-spaced.

2. Entrants must give the following details on a separate sheet of paper: surname and forenames; complete address; date of birth.

3. Entries should be addressed to: Emma Bagnall, Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL, U.K.