Category: Book Prizes (page 1 of 2)

The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman

My first review for The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer Of The Year Award, in association with The University of Warwick shortlist, is for The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman.

Laura Freeman is a freelance writer and art critic. Her first book The Reading Cure: How Books Restored My Appetite has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.

She writes about art, architecture, books and food for the Spectator, Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Apollo, Literary Review,  Standpoint, World of Interiors, Country Life and TLS. She is a former dance critic for the Evening Standard.

Her work has been short-listed for Feature Writer of the Year at the British Press Awards.

She read History of Art at Cambridge, graduating with a double first in 2010.

My review:

At the young age of fourteen, Laura Freeman was diagnosed with anorexia. Where everyone saw a really thin girl with almost transparent skin, she saw something utterly different in the reflection in the mirror. It was the culmination of months of avoiding certain foods, before almost stopping eating completely until she reached the point where she was starving to death. While she let very little pass her lips in the form of nourishment, she still devoured books, and it was literature that was to hold the key to her recovery.

The road to recovery for an anorexic is long and fraught and it was no different for Laura, but where others just had the mental battle, she had the extra support from the books she was reading. In between the covers of Dickens, Sassoon, Woolf, Lee and Leigh Fermor, she would discover how they were able to consume vast plates full of roast beef, bowls of soup and exotic sounding breads without a care in the world. She reads of soldiers who treasure the moment of a scalding hot cup of tea after an intense battle in World War One. In fact, what she discovered was that these authors loved food; revelled in the taste of what they were eating and sharing the moment with others. These passages in the books slowly gave her the confidence to rediscover food for the pleasure of eating it rather than purely as a fuel.

Even though her mind had driven her to the point of abhorring food, one thing that she never lost was her love of reading. Most people do not realise just how debilitating anorexia is and there is some painful moments in here as she recalls the lowest points of her illness. But there are the moments too, where she is sustained by her mother’s love, an invitation from a friend that arrived at just the right moment. I have read a fair number of the books that Laura talks about in here and whilst the eating and celebration of life between friends and strangers is a key part of them, it is not something that particularly stood out for me, until now. Just reading the descriptions quoted in the book made me very hungry! However, it did for Laura and this list of childhood favourites and other classics has played a crucial role in her accepting that food is not something to avoid and can be enjoyed.


There are lots of things happening online concerning the award if you want to follow it.

The website is here: http://www.youngwriteraward.com

The Young Writers Twitter Account is here: https://twitter.com/YoungWriterYear

You can find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/YoungWriterAward/

Or follow the hashtag: 

My fellow shadow panel members are also all online:

Amanda Chatterton – Bookish Chat – https://bookishchat.wordpress.com

Susan Osborne – A Life In Books – https://alifeinbooks.co.uk/

Lucy Pearson – The Lit Edit – https://thelitedit.com

Lizzi Risch – These Little Words  https://theselittlewords.com/about/

Or follow the hashtag: #youngwriterawardshadow

 

 

The Peters Fraser And Dunlop/Sunday Times Young Writer Of The Year Award – Shortlist Reveal

And here are the four shortlisted titles for The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer Of The Year Award, in association with The University of Warwick:

The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman

At the age of fourteen, Laura Freeman was diagnosed with anorexia. She had seized the one aspect of her life that she seemed able to control, and struck different foods from her diet one by one until she was starving. But even at her lowest point, the one appetite she never lost was her love of reading.

As Laura battled her anorexia, she gradually re-discovered how to enjoy food – and life more broadly – through literature. Plum puddings and pottles of fruit in Dickens gave her courage to try new dishes; the wounded Robert Graves’ appreciation of a pair of greengages changed the way she thought about plenty and choice; Virginia Woolf’s painterly descriptions of bread, blackberries and biscuits were infinitely tempting. Book by book, meal by meal, Laura developed an appetite and discovered an entire library of reasons to live.

The Reading Cure is a beautiful, inspiring account of hunger and happiness, about addiction, obsession and recovery, and about the way literature and food can restore appetite and renew hope.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.
As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.
Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?
In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned menacing and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them in the woods with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted.

Cathy was more like their father: fierce and full of simmering anger. Daniel was more like their mother: gentle and kind. Sometimes, their father disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home, he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.

Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, Elmet is a compelling portrayal of a family living on the fringes of contemporary society, as well as a gripping exploration of the disturbing actions people are capable of when pushed to their limits.

Kings of the Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth

A captivating, lyrical account of an epic voyage by canoe down the Yukon River.

The Yukon River is almost 2,000 miles long, flowing through Canada and Alaska to the Bering Sea. Setting out to explore one of the most ruggedly beautiful and remote regions of North America, Adam Weymouth journeyed by canoe on a four-month odyssey through this untrammelled wilderness, encountering the people who have lived there for generations. The Yukon’s inhabitants have long depended on the king salmon who each year migrate the entire river to reach their spawning grounds. Now the salmon numbers have dwindled, and the encroachment of the modern world has changed the way of life on the Yukon, perhaps for ever.

Weymouth’s searing portraits of these people and landscapes offer an elegiac glimpse of a disappearing world. Kings of the Yukon is an extraordinary adventure, told by a powerful new voice.


It is good to see two non-fiction on the list. I have already read the Reading Cure earlier in the year. I had won a signed copy of Elmet but not got around to reading it. Really looking forward to the others too.

What do you think of the shortlist? Have you read any?

 

Young Writer Award – Shadow Panel Judge

I am genuinely humbled to announce to announce that I have been asked to be a member of the official shadow panel for The Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with Warwick University. It is awarded annually for a full-length published or self-published (in book or ebook formats) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by an author aged 18 – 35 years. The winner receives £5,000, and there are three prizes of £500 each for runners-up. The winning book will be a work of outstanding literary merit.

The Irish writer Sally Rooney was named last year’s Young Writer of the Year for Conversation with Friends (Faber & Faber), which went on to be shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize, and the British Book Awards. Rooney followed Max Porter, who won with his genre-bending Grief is the Thing with Feathers (Faber & Faber), and the poet Sarah Howe, who was awarded in 2015 for her first collection, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus), which went on to win the T.S. Eliot Prize. This year’s winner will join these three exceptional writers, and a list of alumni that includes everyone from Robert Macfarlane and Simon Armitage to Zadie Smith and Sarah Waters.

The prize – which rewards the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35 – has become the definitive platform for young writing. Working with a growing network of partners, including the British Council, it provides a vital support system to the very best talent at work now. Generously sponsored by literary agency Peters Fraser + Dunlop, and created by The Sunday Times, the Young Writer of the Year Award is running in association with the University of Warwick – home to the acclaimed Warwick Writing Programme – who are offering a bespoke 10-week residency for the award’s winner, and a year long programme of digital support for the Prize. The British Council is the international partner of the prize.

Find out more about the prize here: youngwriteraward.com

Follow them on Twitter here: twitter.com/youngwriteryear

As well as the hashtags:  & #youngwriterawardshadow

My fellow bloggers on the shadow panel are :

Amanda Chatterton – Bookish Chat – https://bookishchat.wordpress.com
Susan Osborne – A Life In Books – https://alifeinbooks.co.uk/
Lucy Pearson – The Lit Edit – https://thelitedit.com
Lizzi Risch – These Little Words  https://theselittlewords.com/about/

Timetable of Events:
The shortlist will be announced on 4 November in the Sunday Times.
Shadow Panel Winner Announcement – 28th November.
The winner will be announced on 6th December at an evening event in London.

Review: Liquid by Mark Miodownik

4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The amount of stuff we consume these days is staggering, but there are some things that we use day in day out that barely get our attention, the water that comes out of the tap that goes into the kettle to make your coffee. The liquid soap that you use to wash your hands, the ink that stays in the pen until you scribble on a notepad, the glass of something cold that helps you relax at the end of a busy week. All of these are liquids and they all lubricate our lives in one way or another.

But, if someone was to place three glasses full of clear liquids in front of you, which could you drink that is essential to life, which would power an aircraft and which would kill you if you knocked it over?

Mark Miodownik is best placed to explain all of these things being a materials engineer and Professor of Materials and Society at UCL and in this highly entertaining journey from London to San Francisco on a plane he describes and enlightens us about all the liquids that we use in the modern world. Beginning as he passes through security, and why we can’t take more than 100ml of fluids on board now, on to the pre-dinner drinks, the oceans that he is flying over and what liquids hold the plane he is on together.

The film he watches after diner allows him to explain liquid crystals and the way that most modern TV’s work before he nods off and wakes up dribbling on the passenger alongside him. From a discussion on body fluids, he moves swiftly onto the delights of coffee and tea and why they don’t taste quite the same over the Atlantic. A wash and brush up and then onto the history of inks, musings about clouds and liquids that sometimes think that they are solids, liquids that can flow uphill and new modern technologies like self-healing roads.

I thought that was a great companion volume to Stuff Matters and another very well written book by Miodownik. He has used a fair amount of artistic license to ensure that the narrative flows and to give him plenty of subjects to discuss as he travels from the UK to the United States. I do like the way that he talks about science in an engaging manner and the whole book is stuffed full of facts and interesting anecdotes, but there is only so much you can do from the viewpoint of an airline seat and he does veer a little off course occasionally. Well worth reading.

Wainwright Shortlist Announced


One of my favourite prizes announced its shortlist today; and here they all are:

The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell (Tinder Press)

Hidden Nature by Alys Fowler (Hodder & Stoughton)

Outskirts by John Grindrod (Sceptre)

The Dun Cow Rib by John Lister-Kaye (Canongate)

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton)

The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicolson (William Collins, HarperCollins)

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Michael Joseph)

International Dylan Thomas Prize #IDTP18

The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize announced its 10th tenth shortlist shortly after midnight this morning. It is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers and is a commemoration of Dylan Thomas the celebrated Welsh poet who passed away 65 years ago. Seeking to find the very best in international fiction the prize is awared to an author under the age of 39. 

The prize is worth a cool £30,000 to one of these six shortlisted books:


 Kayo Chingonyi (Zambia)

Kumukanda (Vintage – Chatto & Windus

Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. The poems of Kayo Chingonyi’s remarkable debut explore this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived.

Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, here is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.

 Carmen Maria Machado (USA)

Her Body and Other Parties (Serpent’s Tail / Graywolf Press)

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella “Especially Heinous,” Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.


Gwendoline Riley (UK)


First Love (Granta) 

Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place.Drawing the reader into the battleground of her relationship, Neve spins a story of helplessness and hostility, an ongoing conflict in which both husband and wife have played a part. But is this, nonetheless, also a story of love?

 Sally Rooney (Ireland)

Conversations With Friends (Faber & Faber)

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and observant. A student in Dublin and an aspiring writer, at night she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are interviewed and then befriended by Melissa, a well-known journalist who is married to Nick, an actor, they enter a world of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence, beginning a complex ménage-à-quatre. But when Frances and Nick get unexpectedly closer, the sharply witty and emotion-averse Frances is forced to honestly confront her own vulnerabilities for the first time.

 Emily Ruskovich (USA)

Idaho (Vintage – Chatto & Windus)

One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, sing snatches of songs as they while away the time. 

But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction.

Gabriel Tallent (USA)
My Absolute Darling (4th Estate / Riverhead Books)


‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’
At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.
She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …
Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

There are som really interesting looking books there, I do not envy the judges picking from that lot! 

The winner will be announced on 10th May. Follow @dylanthomprize and the hashtag #IDTP18 on twitter for more information 

Wellcome Book Prize

Another excellent longlist for the Wellcome Book Prize which consists of:

‘Stay With Me’ by Aỳbámi Adébáỳ
‘The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine’ by Lindsey Fitzharris
‘In Pursuit of Memory: The fight against Alzheimer’s’ by Joseph Jebelli
‘Plot 29: A memoir’ by Allan Jenkins
‘The White Book’ by Han Kang translated by Deborah Smith
‘With the End in Mind: Dying, death and wisdom in an age of denial’ by Kathryn Mannix
‘Midwinter Break’ by Bernard MacLaverty
‘To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death’ by Mark O’Connell
‘I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen brushes with death’ by Maggie O’Farrell
‘Mayhem: A memoir’ by Sigrid Rausing
‘Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst’ by Robert Sapolsky

‘The Vaccine Race: How scientists used human cells to combat killer viruses’ by Meredith Wadman

I have read two of them! Quite a few look equally good.

Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards

One of my favourite book prizes is the Stanford Dolman travel one. There is a whole world out there that some of the best writers are discovering and then telling us about through their books. The shortlist were announced last night at an event in Londo (that I was offered a ticket for but sadly could make). And there are here:
Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year, in partnership with The Authors’ Club
• Islander by Patrick Barkham (Granta)
• The Rule of the Land by Garrett Carr (Faber)
• Border by Kapka Kassabova (Granta)
• The Epic City by Kushanava Choudhury (Bloomsbury Publishing)
• RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR by Philip Hoare (Fourth Estate)
• Where the Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt (Nicholas Brealey Publishing)
• Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson, Photographs by Chev Wilkinson (Eland Publishing Ltd)
Hayes & Jarvis Fiction, with a Sense of Place
• Towards Mellbreak by Marie-Elsa Bragg (Chatto & Windus)
• These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper (Hodder & Stoughton)
• Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Oneworld)
• Hummingbird by Tristan Hughes (Parthian)
• Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Apollo)
• The Bureau of Second Chances by Sheena Kalayil (Polygon)
Wanderlust Adventure Travel Book of the Year
• The Orchid Hunter by Leif Bersweden (Short Books)
• Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent (Simon & Schuster UK)
• The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron (I.B. Tauris)
• Revolutionary Ride by Lois Pryce (Nicholas Brealey Publishing)
• Shark Drunk by Morten Strøksnes translated by Tiina Nunnally (Jonathan Cape)
• Eastern Horizons by Levison Wood (Hodder & Stoughton)
Food and Travel Magazine Travel Cookery Book of the Year
• Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh & Nassima Rothacker (photographer) (Mitchell Beasley)
• The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis (Phaidon)
• My Vegan Travels by Jackie Kearney (Ryland Peters & Small)
• Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan & Nassima Rothacker (studio photographer), Keith James (location photographer), Amber Badger & Ella McLean (illustrators) (Mitchell Beasley)
• Andina: The Heart of Peruvian Food by Martin Morales & photography by David Loftus (Quadrille Publishing)
• Bart’s Fish Tales by Bart van Olphen & photography by David Loftus (Pavilion Books)
Destinations Show Photography & Illustrated Travel Book of the Year
• Londonist Mapped by AA Publishing (AA Publishing)
• Pilgrimage by Derry Brabbs (Frances Lincoln, The Quarto Group)
• Atlas of Untamed Places by Chris Fitch (Aurum Press, The Quarto Group)
• Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins (Viking)
• Lonely Planet’s Atlas of Adventure by Lonely Planet (Lonely Planet)
• Explorer’s Atlas by Piotr Wilkowiecki and Michał Gaszyński (Collins)
Marco Polo Outstanding General Travel Themed Book of the Year
• The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per. J. Andersson translated by Anna Holmwood (Oneworld)
• Small Island by Little Train by Chris Arnot & AA Publishing (AA Publishing)
• Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding (Hardie Grant Books)
• Island People: The Caribbean and the World by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro (Canongate)
• The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat (Canongate)
• The Alps by Stephen O’Shea (W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.)
London Book Fair Children’s Travel Book of the Year
• The Picture Atlas by Simon Holland & illustrated by Jill Calder (Bloomsbury)
• Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
• The Earth Book by Jonathan Litton & illustrated by Thomas Hegbrook (360 Degrees)
• A World Full of Animal Stories by Angela McAllister & illustrated by Aitch (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
• What We See In The Stars by Kelsey Oseid (Boxtree/Pan)
• The Explorer by Katherine Rundell & illustrated by Hannah Horn (Bloomsbury)
I have so far read six of the Stanford Dolman shortlist and one from the Adventure Travel. Will be reviewing all of these for Nudge

Wainwright Longlist 2017

Many congratulations to all those on the 2017 Wainwright Golden Beer Prize Longlist:






Love of Country by Madeline Bunding (Granta)
The Otter’s Tale by Simon Cooper (HarperCollins)
The Nature of Autumn by Jim Crumley (Saraband)
Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones (Elliott & Thompson)
The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel (Transworld)
Where Poppies Blow by John Lewis-Stempel (Orion)
A Sky Full of Birds by Matt Merritt (Ebury)
Wild Kingdom by Stephen Moss (Vintage)
Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham (Ebury)
Love, Madness, Fishing by Dexter Petley (Little Toller Books)
The January Man by Christopher Somerville (Transworld)
The Wild Other by Clover Stroud (Hodder & Stoughton)
I have read all of them and my reviews will be appearing on Nudge over the coming week

Wellcome Book Prize Shadow panel

I have been on the shadow panel with Bookish BackGrrlScientistRuby Jhita and Amy Pirt, and today we announced our winner for the prize. 

It was When breath Become Air, and you can read far more about the panels decision here:

https://bookishbeck.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/wellcome-book-prize-shadow-panel-decision/

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