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3 November 2019

And We're Away! #YoungWriterAwardShadow

The Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award

Following my Exciting Announcement on Wednesday that I'm a Shadow Judge for the Young Writer of the Year Award (I will never get tired of saying that) I've been almost bursting to share the news of who is on the shortlist for the award (and the Shadow Award).

I couldn't do that (I signed a scary NDA and everything)... until now!

From 9am today, 3 November, the news is out. And the books have arrived! Below is my own, very professional, photo of the collection, on my very own reading dining table. 

Just look:

Let's recap on that a bit. The shortlisted books, announced in the Sunday Times today, are 

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus (Penned in the Margins)

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield (Picador)

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler (Fleet/Little, Brown)

Testament by Kim Sherwood (riverrun)

I'm going to post more about each book over the next couple of weeks, including my own impressions as I read them, and before the shadow panel has its Big Meeting later this month. I have read one of the four so far but I'm not going to say which one - I'm not sure yet whether to post anything till I have read them all. We'll see. 

But here, in the meantime, is a little information about each one. I think you'll agree this is a wide-ranging, stimulating and exciting list.

The Perseverance is "the multi-award-winning debut by British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus. Ranging across history and continents, these poems operate in the spaces in between, their haunting lyrics creating new, hybrid territories. 

The Perseverance is a book of loss, contested language and praise, where elegies for the poet’s father sit alongside meditations on the d/Deaf experience."

Salt Slow is a "brilliantly inventive and haunting debut collection of stories...  Julia Armfield explores bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of her characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession, love and revenge.

Teenagers develop ungodly appetites, a city becomes insomniac overnight, and bodies are diligently picked apart to make up better ones. The mundane worlds of schools and sleepy sea-side towns are invaded and transformed, creating a landscape which is constantly shifting to hold on to its inhabitants. Blurring the mythic and the gothic with the everyday, Salt Slow considers characters in motion – turning away, turning back or simply turning into something new entirely."

In Stubborn Archivist "...the debut novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler uses dialogue to sketch out a young woman's awkward attempts to articulate and reconcile different aspects of who she is... 

The novel ends with a tiny movement, a moment of discovery all the more tantalising for remaining largely unexpressed, and this is undoubtedly the novel's strength: its ability to show something momentous - about cultural identity, sexual violence, racial prejudice - without seeming to say anything at all" [TLS]

In Testament  "...Of everyone in her complicated family, Eva was closest to her grandfather: a charismatic painter – and a keeper of secrets. So when he dies, she’s hit by a greater loss – of the questions he never answered, and the past he never shared.

It’s then she finds the letter from the Jewish Museum in Berlin. They have uncovered the testimony he gave after his forced labour service in Hungary, which took him to the death camps and then to England as a refugee. This is how he survived.

But there is a deeper story that Eva will unravel – of how her grandfather learnt to live afterwards. As she confronts the lies that have haunted her family, their identity shifts and her own takes shape. The testament is in her hands."

So, we have two novels, a collections of poems, and a short story collection. All very tantalising and right now - that's all I can say. I'm going to be finding out more about these books over the next few weeks and I hope you will as well. But if you're already read any of them, why not share your thoughts in a comment?

For more about the The Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award, see the award's website here

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