EDP Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards - Norwich author’s first chapter starts with a win
10:08 21 November 2014
The annual celebration of the best new East Anglian books took place last night at an awards ceremony in Norwich.
An audience of more than 120 at the EDP Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards heard the announcement of six category winners drawn from the 80-plus entries, with the overall prize of East Anglian Book of the Year being awarded to Sarah Perry’s After Me Comes the Flood.
A five-strong judging panel – chairman Chris Rushby, Henry Sutton, Jonathan Morley, Katy Carr, and Caroline Jarrold – decided to award the main prize to the Norwich author for her atmospheric debut novel.
The judges warmly praised the book, saying: “Sarah Perry lives in Norwich and After Me Comes The Flood is set in a version of Thetford Forest that makes one think afresh about the Norfolk landscape and the distinctive way in which it shapes the imagination.
“Beguiling, odd and mesmerising, this novel addresses the very nature of narrative and storytelling. The focus is on the lies that often bind relationships together, the fluidity of truth, and the importance of identity and sense of place. We are keen that the prize this year should support brilliant literary writing by a debut author at the start of her career.”
Sarah received a trophy and her £1,000 prize in the awards ceremony, which took place at Jarrold’s Pantry Restaurant at its Norwich store.
Founded in 2008, the competition is organised in conjunction with the Writers’ Centre Norwich, with support from the UEA’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
The organisers paid tribute to the continuing support by the PACCAR Foundation for donating the prize money for the EABA.
The guest speaker was Norwich novelist Eimear McBride, whose incredible year has seen her pick up a host of awards for her best-selling book A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing.
The Fiction Shortlist featured Susan Hill, for Black Sheep; Elly Griffiths, The Outcast Dead; and Sarah Perry, After Me Comes the Flood.
The judge, best-selling novelist and poet Sophie Hannah commented on her winner – Sarah Perry – “It hypnotises from the start and won’t release its grip until the very end… like reading the kind of dream that’s so fascinating, you can’t bear to wake up from it.”
The Poetry Shortlist was: Moniza Alvi, At the Time of Partition; Sarah Law, Ink’s Wish; and Laura Scott, What I Saw and Tom Warner, Yoga. Poet George Szirtes chose Moniza Alvi’s collection. He commented: “A thematic work requires more than individual poems: it needs an architecture of its own and the architecture is perfectly in place here… the verse is spare, all but stripped of metaphor, forsaking normal poetic graces, looking to establish the sense of rapid movement through short lines and space.”
The Biography and Memoir Shortlist was: Chloe Bennett, A Twilight Landscape: The Hidden Art of George James Rowe of Woodbridge (1804-1883); Alex Monroe, Two Turtle Doves: A Memoir of Making Things; and Thea Abbot’s Diana Poulton: The Lady with the Lute.
Biographer, novelist (and former EABA winner) Diana Souhami chose Alex Monroe’s book as category winner. She said it was “an engaging delightful memoir, unpretentious in style, original in format and full of enthusiasm and mischief”.
Awards founder and EDP Features Editor Trevor Heaton was the judge of the History and Tradition category. His shortlist featured David Adams, The Revolt & Taming of the “Ignorant”; David Bates and Robert Liddiard (editors), East Anglia and Its North Sea World in the Middle Ages; and Martin Bowman, author of We Were Eagles Volume 1: July 42-November 43.
He chose Martin Bowman’s book, commenting: “It is impossible not to be moved by the tales of quiet courage and self-sacrifice, rendered all the more powerful by the author’s understated yet authoritative prose.”
In the General Non Fiction section, the shortlisted titles were:
Patrick Barkham, Badgerlands; Mark Cocker (author) and David Tipling (photographer), Birds & People; and Tim Dee, Four
Fields.Sam Ruddock, Programme Manager at awards co-organisers the Writers’ Centre Norwich, chose Patrick Barkham’s book. He said: “Barkham is a fantastic writer: his prose is elegant, lively, and his storytelling keeps the pages flying by.”
Patrick’s book also won a new prize this year, the East Anglian Writers’ Book by the Cover Award for the best cover among the shortlisted titles. Alison Pressley, co-chairman of the group, described it as “A visually skilful and striking cover that meets all our criteria... A beautiful illustration skilfully combined with typography that tells you exactly what you’re buying.” The £100 prize went to illustrator Jake Blanchard and the cover designer Michael Salu.
The final section was Children’s Books, with the shortlisted contenders being Mary Chapman, Paupers; Douglas Vallgren (author) and Karl Newson (illustrator), Rupert the Dinosaur; and Victor Watson, Everyone A Stranger.
The judge, children’s author Joyce Dunbar, chose Everyone A Stranger: “The reader gets a refreshing sense of the kind of world that arose from the ashes of war,” she said.