A few days ago I was thrilled to share the news that I had been asked to be part of a blogger shadow judging panel for The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award in a post you can see here. All the details about the award can be found on The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer’s Award website.
Today it gives me enormous pleasure to reveal the books I shall be reading and judging along with my fellow panel members. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors.
The exceptional debuts of multi-award-winning British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus, The White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield, British-Brazilian novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler, and writer and Creative Writing teacher Kim Sherwood have been shortlisted for the 2019 Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award. It is the first year the University of Warwick, home to the acclaimed Warwick Writing Programme, acts as the title sponsor of the prize, following two years as its associate partner.
The judges have chosen the shortlisted titles – two novels, a poetry and a short story collection; written by three women and one man – from a record number of submissions to the prize. Publishers submitted over 100 books this year – prompting The Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate, Chair, to sign up two further judges: the writer, editor and bookseller Nick Rennison and the University of Warwick’s Gonzalo C. Garcia have joined the award-winning poet and writer Kate Clanchy and the bestselling author Victoria Hislop. The judges will announce their decision on December 5th with the shadow panel giving their result on the previous Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the shortlisted books:
Salt Slow by Julia Armfield
In her 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.
Winner of The White Review Short Story Prize 2018, Armfield is a writer of sharp, lyrical prose and tilting dark humour – Salt Slow marks the arrival of an ambitious and singular new voice.
Salt Slow is available for purchase through the links here.
Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler
When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world.
This is a novel of growing up between cultures, of finding your space within them and of learning to live in a traumatized body. Our stubborn archivist tells her story through history, through family conversations, through the eyes of her mother, her grandmother and her aunt and slowly she begins to emerge into the world, defining her own sense of identity.
Stubborn Archivist is available for purchase through the links here.
Testament by Kim Sherwood
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.
Kim Sherwood’s extraordinary first novel is a powerful statement of intent. Beautifully written, moving and hopeful, it crosses the tidemark where the third generation meets the first, finding a new language to express love, legacy and our place within history.
Testament is available for purchase through the links here.
The Perseverance by 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.
The Perseverance is available for purchase though the links here.
I’m so excited about reading all of these fabulous young writer and will be featuring each book on Linda’s Book Bag over the next three weeks. I wonder which book appeals to you most?