The shortlist was announced on November 22nd this year, and it’s an interesting group!
The competition is female dominated, with 14 of the 20 works nominated written by women. This is noteworthy merely because had it been 14 men not a single eyebrow would have been raised.
Thrillingly the novel shortlist features three former winners (Maggie O’Farrell, Rose Tremain and Sebastian Barry) which makes this years competition particularly compelling!
I’ve found myself always really enjoying the books that win, but this year I’ve decided to challenge myself somewhat. I’m going to borrow from my library the four books in the novel shortlist and hopefully, time permitting also will read all four nominated for the first novel prize (and if I succeed then continue to read the poetry shortlist) and give my honest opinion here on the blog before the winners of each category is announced on Jan 3rd.
I’m planning on reading The Essex Serpent first, which I think promises to be a pleasingly gothic victorian tale about a monster terrorising a town.(I coud be wrong I have’t read too much about any of the books so as not to spoil any surprises!) The Gustav Sonata is my second in line, mainly because it’s the one I’m least convinced I’ll enjoy and I’m hoping that the momentum I build up will carry me through it. Hopefully I can then get my hands on This Must Be The Place, I’ve never read any Maggie O’Farrell before but the basic synopsis I’ve read has already got me wanting more, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this one. The book with the longest waiting list in my local library is Days Without End so fingers crossed I’ll get to it before the start of January!
Days Without End -Sebastian Barry
This Must Be The Place -Maggie O’Farrell
The Essex Serpent -Sarah Perry
The Gustav Sonata -Rose Tremain
First Novel Award
The Good Guy -Susan Beale
My Name Is Leon -Kit de Waal
The Words In My Hand -Guinevere Glasfurd
Golden Hill -Francis Spufford
Let Them Eat Chaos -Kate Tempest
Falling Awake -Alice Oswald
Sunshine -Melissa Lee-Houghton
Say Something Back -Denise Riley
Children’s Book Award
Orangeboy -Patrice Lawrence
The Monstrous Child-Francesca Simon
The Bombs That Brought Us Together -Brian Conaghan
Time Travelling With A Hamster -Ross Welford
The Return: Fathers, Sons And The Land In Between -Hisham Matar
I’m Not With The Band: A Writer’s Life Lost In Music -Sylvia Patterson
Dadland: A Journey Into Uncharted Territory -Keggie Carew
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years -John Guy