Last year’s winner - Mick Jackson’s novel The Widow’s Tale
To the panel of judges that chose the 2010 East Anglian Book of the Year, it was 'a seriously good example of literary fiction that will appeal to a broad readership'.
To Mick Jackson, who is based in Brighton but got to know Norfolk well when he studied on the University of East Anglia's MA in creative writing, it is the novel that captured his feelings for the bleak and beautiful north Norfolk coast in winter.
The Widow's Tale, published by Faber and Faber, is told by an anonymous first person narrator – all we know is that she is newly bereaved and fleeing London in a bid to cope with her grief.
But very gradually do we learn why she has chosen north Norfolk... it is a tale with a twist, and one that makes expert use of its setting.
'East Anglia as a whole is quite significant in my life, because it's where I studied creative writing in 1991-92, so in a way my writing career has its foundations in Norwich,' said Mick, whose career highpoint would be his shortlisting for the 1997 Booker Prize, a nomination that came for his novel The Underground Man.
'One of the great things about the East Anglian Book Awards is that these are the kind of books I endlessly pick up in bookshops.
'You have writers such as Richard Mabey [the noted Norfolk-based nature writer whose book The Barley Bird won the Places and Nature category at last year's awards].
- 1 Meet the new team behind revamped village pub
- 2 Woman in 40s airlifted to hospital after suffering medical emergency
- 3 'Once in a lifetime catch' - man lands monster fish in Norfolk
- 4 People are driving for hours to visit this loaded fries and doughnut kiosk
- 5 Music-loving dad whose ashes were fired into festival crowd took own life
- 6 Obituary: Doctor, and son of Norwich's recycling empire founder, dies aged 69
- 7 One person taken to hospital after three-car crash on A47
- 8 Father accused of baby girl's murder 'had short fuse and made things up'
- 9 Holiday Inn to become 'care hotel' to help struggling hospitals
- 10 One of East Anglia's largest property builders is sold to investment firm
'He is one of my favourite writers so to have been nominated alongside him was an honour itself.
'What I like about these things is it draws together such idiosyncratic books. You can have these very different books all brought together in the same place, connected by their geography.'
Mick was born in Great Harwood, Lancashire in 1960 and has a degree in theatre studies from Dartington College of Arts. He also played in rock bands before settling on his writing career.
His association with Norfolk goes back to before his days at UEA.
'I rented a cottage in Stiffkey in the mid-1980s, and have been coming back to the north Norfolk coast on a regular basis ever since,' he said.
'There's a beautiful bleakness about that landscape and it seems particularly suited to this time of the year.
'I was staying in Blakeney three or four years ago when I had the idea for The Widow's Tale.'
In selecting it as their favourite of the seven category winners last year, the judges cited 'characterisation, the quality of the writing, the sense of place and the flashes of humour', noting that 'its heroine, a bereaved woman in her 60s, is the kind of character too often ignored by contemporary novelists.
'Add in the fact that its landscape and atmosphere is so distinctly East Anglian, and we have a novel worthy of being named the East Anglian Book of the Year.'