British author and music critic Ian Penman has received the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje prize for his examine of the late German film-maker Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Penman’s guide, Fassbinder: 1000’s of Mirrors, was introduced because the winner of the £10,000 prize – awarded to works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that finest evoke the spirit of a spot – at a London ceremony on Tuesday night.

“The world of European cinema, particularly Fassbinder’s movie seen by Ian Penman’s eyes, has transported me to a tantalising place known as postwar Europe,” mentioned judging chair, the author Xiaolu Guo.

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Fassbinder: 1000’s of Mirrors by Ian Penman. {Photograph}: Fitzcarraldo/Ondaatje Prize

Guo was joined on the judging panel by the writers Francis Spufford and Jan Carson. Spufford mentioned Penman’s guide “captures not solely scenes each gross and delightful from the Nineteen Seventies lifetime of the workaholic Fassbinder, however a glittering array of ideas and moments from his personal lengthy fascination with Fassbinder’s place and time and historic second – which was additionally the time of Penman’s youth, not as a German movie director however as a London music journalist, hungry for Europe and all that it then represented to England, assembling a wider world for his creativeness from clues and scraps and cherished frames of German motion pictures.”

Penman, a well-respected music author, started his profession at NME in 1977, and has gone on to jot down for publications together with the Wire and the Guardian. His earlier books – It Will get Me Dwelling, This Curving Monitor and Very important Indicators: Music, Films, and Different Manias – are collections of his journalistic essays.

Fassbinder: 1000’s of Mirrors is “a freewheeling, hopscotching examine of the Fassbinder attract and an investigation of Penman’s youthful self, from peripatetic RAF household to lonely Norfolk autodidact”, wrote Anthony Quinn in his Observer evaluation. “It’s a guide a few film-maker but in addition, hauntingly, about the best way our tastes and passions change over time”.

Different titles shortlisted for this 12 months’s prize had been Falling Animals by Sheila Armstrong, Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad, A Flat Place by Noreen Masud, Cuddy by Benjamin Myers and No Man’s Land by David Nash.

Judges selected the winner from 194 entries. The prize is funded by its co-founder, the financier and author Sir Christopher Ondaatje.

This 12 months marks the award’s twentieth anniversary. Earlier winners embrace Lea Ypi, Peter Pomerantsev, Hisham Matar and Edmund de Waal. Final 12 months, Anthony Anaxagorou received the prize for Heritage Aesthetics, his poetry assortment exploring British imperial historical past and present-day racism.


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