Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl wins prestigious 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction at awards event sponsored by the Blavatnik Family Foundation


London – November 14, 2018 –  Serhii Plokhy has been named the winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction for “Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy.”

The £30,000 Prize, which celebrates the best in non-fiction writing, was announced at an awards event at RIBA generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Formerly known as The Samuel Johnson Prize (1999 – 2015), the Baillie Gifford Prize is the most prestigious non-fiction prize in the UK.

In Chernobyl, Mr. Plokhy documents the context and conditions that led to the avoidable catastrophe contaminating over half of Europe on that fateful day in 1986. He tells the dramatic stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon and succeeded in doing the seemingly impossible: extinguishing the nuclear inferno and putting the reactor to sleep. Mr. Plokhy shows how the deeper roots of Chernobyl lay in the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry.

Mr. Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University. He has published in English, Russian and Ukrainian as well as having taught in Canada, Ukraine and the USA.

The 2018 judging panel is chaired by The Economist’s culture correspondent, Fiammetta Rocco. She is joined by Stephen Bush, journalist and political commentator; Susan Brigden, historian; Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, mathematician and campaigner; and Nigel Warburton, philosopher.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation has supported the Baillie Gifford Prize since 2015, based on a shared vision of promoting ongoing exploration and independence of thought in literature.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation is a non-for-profit organization established by British-American businessman and philanthropist Len Blavatnik.

Globally, the Foundation has contributed more than $700 million to hundreds of scientific, educational, cultural and other charitable institutions.