We are excited to announce that Ruth Gilligan has won the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize with The Butchers (Atlantic Books). The annual Prize of £10,000 is awarded for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place.

‘I am just elated – and still totally shocked – to have won the 2021 RSL Ondaatje Prize. I am a sucker for books with a strong sense of place, so I have long been a huge fan of the Prize, but after a year of isolation and confinement, it feels more pertinent than ever to be celebrating the transportive power of reading. There were some absolute crackers on the shortlist, so I am truly honoured that the judges chose The Butchers. A million thanks; this really means an awful lot.’ Ruth Gilligan

‘Our winning title is about a moment in time, in a particular place. It’s been described in many different terms: Literary thriller, coming-of-age story, historical fiction, an account of superstition and the supernatural, but it doesn’t matter how it’s categorised – it’s a page-turning, roller coaster of a read. The humour works – we need relief from repressed emotional lives, and the slaughter of cows – and it lures us into recalling the recent past at a moment when ‘crisis’ was constantly on the lips of politicians and pundits alike – just like today.’ Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey, Chair of 2021 Judges

Watch our announcement video, by Pei-Hsin Cho, here: 

Read the press release for more information.