A history book that examines the close relationship between Elizabethan England and the Islamic World has been shortlisted for the UK’s PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize 2017, a prestigious award given to the best work of historical non-fiction.
This Orient Isle by Jerry Brotton, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London, reveals how England’s relations with the Muslim world were “far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have ever appreciated.”
In his work, Professor Brotton discusses how, after Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the Pope, England began a close alignment with the Muslim powers who were fighting Catholic Spain in the Mediterranean. He says there were “cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not experienced again until the modern age.”
Paying tribute to This Orient Isle, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak said: “I adored this book – it resonated deeply with me,” while the renowned UK daily newspaper The Times described it in a book review as “a vivid, significant work of scholarship.”
Founded in 2002, the £2,000 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize is named after the writer Marjorie Hessell-Tiltman who was a prominent member of PEN International during the 1960s and 1970s. The organisation was founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere.
The other titles on the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize shortlist are: At the Existentialist Café (Chatto) by Sarah Bakewell; The Good Occupation (Harvard University Press) by Susan L Carruthers; Spitalfields (OUP) by Dan Cruickshank; The Cultural Revolution (Bloomsbury) by Frank Dikotter; Black and British (Macmillan) by David Olusoga; and Battling the Gods (Faber) by Tim Whitmarsh. The winner of the prize will be announced on July 9, 2017.