REVEALED: The East Anglian Book Awards shortlist

A man they hope to emulate. The East Anglian Book of the Year 2017 title went to John Christie (pict

A man they hope to emulate. The East Anglian Book of the Year 2017 title went to John Christie (pictured) and John Berger for Lapwing and Fox Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

From Lady Lord Mayors to pop industry excess and a floating library, there's energy and imagination to thrill and delight in 2018

Sarah Perrys After Me Comes the Flood is another past winner of the overall prize of East Anglian Bo

Sarah Perrys After Me Comes the Flood is another past winner of the overall prize of East Anglian Book of the Year at the EDP Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards Picture: PAUL BAYFIELD - Credit: Archant

Chris Gribble has no doubts. 'It has been another bumper year for the East Anglian Book Awards, with over 50 published submitted books demonstrating that we're a hotbed of talent and creativity,' says the chief executive of the locally-based National Centre for Writing.

'The stories – of the past, present and emerging – show our region flourishing imaginatively and full of confidence for the future.'

This is the 11th year the East Anglian Book Awards have been held – celebrating the kind of potent regional writing talent of which Chris speaks.

Since the awards launched in 2008 they have highlighted the works of almost 150 authors, nearly 190 titles, and more than 90 publishers.

For 2018 there's again a main prize of £1,000 for the overall East Anglian Book of the Year, courtesy of PACCAR Foundation.

That victor will follow in the footsteps of Lapwing & Fox, based on a series of letters between critic and writer John Berger and his friend, the artist John Christie. It was produced by Framlingham-based Objectif Press and named East Anglian Book of the Year 2017.

The 2015 Book of the Year winner, Julia Blackburn Picture: SIMON FINLAY

The 2015 Book of the Year winner, Julia Blackburn Picture: SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

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Previous winners include Norwich's Sarah Perry, whose novel The Essex Serpent was a huge nationwide success. The Chelmsford-born author has paid tribute to the EABA in aiding her career – and told how she used her prize money to buy the computer on which she wrote her bestseller.

As well as the six subject categories (from which the overall winner is chosen), 2018 brings the return of the award for lifetime achievement in local publishing. The awards will also include the 'Book by the Cover' design award, sponsored by the East Anglian Writers.

Today we announce the finalists. The judges will now spend time deliberating and deciding, with the results revealed at a ceremony on November 23.

Here are the shortlisted books. And now, it's all down to those judges…

A welcome to the East Anglian Book Awards last year Picture: Nick Butcher

A welcome to the East Anglian Book Awards last year Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Biography & Memoir

Judged by Chris Rushby, book buyer at Jarrold

? Ink in my Blood: my half century in newspapers by Neil Haverson (Paul Dickson publisher): The Eastern Daily Press columnist's 50-year gallop through the life and times of a local newspaper industry that was forever changing – and still is. From flongs, hot metal and office cricket to full-colour printing, digital editions and the web.

? The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1923-2017 by Phyllida Scrivens (Pen & Sword): Seventeen remarkable women, from Ethel Colman (the daughter of a mustard magnate who became the first female Lord Mayor of both Norwich and Great Britain), to a war refugee from Czechoslovakia, a manageress of C&A, an amateur actress, a woman from the Glasgow shipyards, a hairdresser and more.

? A Life in Norfolk's Archaeology 1950-2016 by Peter Wade-Martins (Archaeopress): A history of archaeological endeavour, following the author's time as a volunteer, the rise of field archaeology as a profession, and the battle to conserve our heritage against the tide of destruction we saw up to the 1980s. Now, developers often have to fund an excavation before they can dream of planning permission.

The gathering to announce the winner can be quite an occasion. This is 2017 Picture: Nick Butcher

The gathering to announce the winner can be quite an occasion. This is 2017 Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher


Judged by Jan Holden, head of libraries and information, Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service

? Devoured by Anna Mackmin (Propolis): It's 1973 and, deep in rural Norfolk, Swallow's Farmhouse is home to a commune of free-thinkers and poets dreaming of a better world. But below the surface lies jealousy and threat. Can it end well?

? Rock and Roll is Life by DJ Taylor (Constable & Robinson): One reviewer described this novel as 'Spinal Tap for literary types'. It's about the Helium Kids. In their late '60s and early '70s heyday they were on Top of the Pops 27 times, sold out Madison Square Garden and were perhaps almost as big as the Beatles. But do they survive the journey?

? The Great Level by Stella Tillyard (Chatto &Windus): In the mid-1600s a Dutchman comes to the Fens to drain the marsh that is the Great Level. He's an engineer – a man who weighs and measures and is precise. Then he meets a woman and finds his heart 'going faster than I can now count'.

General Non-Fiction

Judged by Helen Dawson, National Centre for Writing board member

? Monday Market by Ben Elwes (Section Press): From 1990 to 2010 the photographer captured life at Aylsham, at the kind of rural market found less and less in England. He says 'To me it somehow felt as if time stood still at Keys on Mondays… However, change was occurring.'

? The East Country: Almanac Tales of Valley and Shore by Jules Pretty (Comstock): The nature writer and University of Essex academic walks in step with the seasons through 74 tales set in landscapes from valley to salty shore, persuading us we should forge relationships with the local and suggesting the land can change us for the better.

? Cultures of the Countryside: Art, Museum, Heritage, Environment 1970-2015 by Veronica Sekules (Routledge): Looks at the way museums and heritage projects have sought new ways of engagement between places, objects and people; and at art projects in the context of the environment and rural life.

History & Tradition

Judged by Trevor Heaton, a former EDP journalist

? Humphry Repton in Norfolk, edited by Sally Bate, Rachel Savage and Tom Williamson (Norfolk Gardens Trust): In 2016 the trust's research group started looking at all the sites in the county believed to be linked with the landscape designer. To mark the bi-centenary of his death in 1818, the findings have been brought together in this illustrated book.

? Maritime Suffolk: A history of 1500 years of seafaring by Robert Malster (Poppyland): This completed a series of titles about the east coast and North Sea. About 300 pages and more than 250 pictures on the seafaring history of the county. Adventurers and pirates, traders and tragedies, dreams and danger – they're all there.

? This Hollow Land: Aspects of Norfolk Folklore by Peter Tolhurst (Black Dog Books): Devil dogs to witches, sacred springs to magic stones, love divination to fairy stories, restless spirits to folksongs... and more besides that reflects local traditions.

The Mal Peet Children's Award

Judged by Hannah Garrard and Laura Stimson, National Centre for Writing programme managers

? Birdy & Bou: The Floating Library by David Bedford and Mandy Stanley (Simon & Schuster): Bou the panda wakes up and hears the floating library coming. He's excited about borrowing his favourite book, but finds someone else has it. He sets off to find whoever has borrowed it, so they might share.

? Kick by Mitch Johnson (Usborne): Budi has a plan: To play for the greatest team on earth, instead of toiling over each stitch he sews in an Indonesian sweatshop, making football boots. But one unlucky kick brings his world crashing down, and now he owes the most dangerous man in Jakarta.

? Worzel Says Hello! Will You Be My Friend? by Catherine Pickles and Chantal Bourgonje (Veloce): Catherine and her lurcher, Worzel, take children on a journey where they gain an understanding of how dogs think and feel, so all youngsters can have a wonderful relationship with the dogs in their lives, and all canines can feel happy, safe and loved.


Judged by Prof Tiffany Atkinson, professor of poetry, University of East Anglia

? Gall by Matt Howard (Rialto): Kathleen Jamie has said 'He combines the intimate, careful voice of the naturalist with a lush and unusual diction. His poetic world is both empirical and uncanny, examining the 'nature' of the inner body as well as the wild. This is a wunderkammer of a book, a fully realised first collection.'

? The Wound Register by Esther Morgan (Bloodaxe): The Wound Register (or Casualty Book), which gives the book its title, is an official record of the casualty and sickness details for more than 15,000 soldiers of the Norfolk Regiment during the First World War. The poems apply the concept to Esther's family history in the aftermath of her great-grandfather's death at the Somme.

? Suffolk Bang by Adam Warne (Gatehouse Press): A cheese so hard you can use it as a hammer, green children who eat only broad beans, and the devil himself… A dark and mesmerising window into a past filled with rural poverty, hard labour and the ghosts of things and beings better left unnamed.

The basics

To qualify, works had to be set largely in East Anglia or be written by an author living in the region – which is defined as Norfolk and Suffolk, and the area of Fenland District Council.

Books must have been physically published for the first time between July 21, 2017, and July 27, 2018 – and must have been commercially available in bookshops.

The awards are organised by the Eastern Daily Press, Jarrold, and the National Centre for Writing, in association with the University of East Anglia.