Playful book about The Beatles wins major non-fiction prize in Britain


This book is a kaleidoscopic mixture of history, etymology, diaries, autobiography, fan letters, essays, parallel lives, party lists, charts, interviews, announcements and stories. Photo: Handout

A book that looks at The Beatles from a playful kaleidoscope of angles won Britain’s leading non-fiction literary award recently.

Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four: The Beatles In Time was named winner of the £50,000 (RM273,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a virtual ceremony in London.

Brown’s "composite biography” juxtaposes the stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo with relatives, partners, artists, imitators, hangers-on and others drawn into their orbit.

Broadcaster Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said Brown’s "joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration” of the Fab Four was "a shaft of light piercing the deep gloom of 2020.”

"Who would have thought that a book about The Beatles could seem so fresh?” she said.

The award recognises English-language books in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.

Brown beat a shortlist that included Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Haitian revolution history Black Spartacus, Matthew Cobb’s The Idea Of The Brain and Christina Lamb’s book about women and war Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.

The other finalists were Amy Stanley’s Stranger In The Shogun’s City, about a woman’s life in 19th-century Japan, and The Haunting Of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale, a fact-based story of apparently supernatural events. - AP

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