Yesterday evening was the prize ceremony for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. The event took place in the Jerwood Space in South London and I was lucky enough to be there.
The longlist of fifteen titles was whittled down to eight winners, all of whom were presented with a beautiful hand-bound edition of their book and a cheque for £5000. The prize is unique in that it awards the best British fiction from across the country and has eight winners who equally share the prize money. It was clear from the speeches of the winners, particularly Carys Davies, Grace McCleen and Bethan Roberts how much this means to writers in a time when grants have been cut and more books than ever are being published. It’s also fantastic to see a number of independent publishers being recognised and to have a winners list where three quarters of the recipients are women. (Now for more writers of colour to be recognised, although I understand there’s an issue here in terms of the number of books submitted by writers of colour.)
The winning books are:
A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar (Hodder & Stoughton)
Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth (Canongate Books)
Mobile Library by David Whitehouse (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Mother Island by Bethan Roberts (Chatto & Windus, Penguin Random House)
Significance by Jo Mazelis (Seren Books)
The Incarnations by Susan Barker (Doubleday, Transworld)
The Offering by Grace McCleen (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton)
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies (Salt)
The three I’ve read are all great (click the link to read my reviews) – Animals and The Incarnations both made my best of the year list last year. I’m really looking forward to exploring the rest of the list.
It’s also Fiction Uncovered’s fifth birthday and to celebrate they had an art installation cake. Yes, that’s really a cake! Isn’t it amazing? It tasted delicious too.
There’s also more celebrations to come. Jerwood Fiction Uncovered FM will return to the airwaves on Sunday 21 June. The annual radio station dedicated to discussing great British fiction will be on Resonance FM at 104.4fm and via www.resonancefm.com. Guests will also include the winning authors, the 2015 judging panel and other British fiction writers including Catherine Hall, Nikesh Shukla, Matt Thorne, Alex Wheatle, broadcaster Nikki Bedi and Danuta Kean. AND ME! Yes, really. I’m on a panel hosted by Nikki Bedi with Danuta Kean and Nikesh Shukla discussing diversity in the publishing industry following the pieces I wrote for the Fiction Uncovered blog in May. Jerwood Fiction Uncovered FM is on air 12-5pm, presented by Matt Thorne and Simon Savidge. The panel I’m involved in takes place from 13.40 to 14.10. Tune in!