The Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize Winners

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.

Photograph by Nina Pottell

Photograph by Nina Pottell

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.)

Photography by Rachael Beale

Photography by Rachael Beale

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.

Photograph by Nina Pottell

Photograph by Nina Pottell

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 http://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!

The Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Longlist

I’ve loved the Fiction Uncovered prize since discovering it three years ago. It awards eight writers who haven’t garnered the recognition they deserve and the choices are always wonderful. This year, for the first time, a longlist has been announced and it looks amazing. There are fifteen books, eleven of which – ELEVEN – are by women writers. I’m impressed. I’ve only read four of them but they’re all fantastic; if you click on the titles you can read my reviews. I’m going to endeavour to read the rest now. The shortlist is announced on the 18th June.

A Man Lies Dreaming – Lavie Tidhar (Hodder & Stoughton)

Animals – Emma Jane Unsworth (Canongate Books)

Beastings – Benjamin Myers (Bluemoose Books)

Dear Thief – Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House)

Mobile Library – David Whitehouse (Picador, Pan Macmillan)

Mother Island – Bethan Roberts (Chatto & Windus, Penguin Random House)

Significance – Jo Mazelis (Seren Books)

The Four Marys – Jean Rafferty (Saraband)

The Incarnations – Susan Barker (Doubleday, Transworld)

The Offering – Grace McCleen (Sceptre, Hodder & Stougton)

The Redemption of Galen Pike – Carys Davies (Salt)

The Spice Box Letters – Eve Makis (Sandstone Press)

The Stray American – Wendy Brandmark (Holland Park Press)

The Way Out – Vicki Jarrett (Freight Books)

Wittgenstein Jr – Lars Iyer (Melville House UK)

This diverse group of books has been chosen by the judges as they display the flair, range and literary rigour abounding in British writing today and should, the judges believe, be widely read. In a nation reeling from the most divisive general election for many years, this is a group of books that can unify readers in the power of a good story.

Announcing the longlist, chair of judges India Knight said:

“It is absolutely thrilling to have found such brilliant books, across such a wide variety of genres, and from authors that live and write all over the country. These are fantastic writers who deserve to be household names.”

On the decision to release the longlist for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize for the first time this year, prize Founder and Director Sophie Rochester said:

“With writers from Swansea, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bath, Brighton, Lancaster, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Glasgow and London, and publishers from Yorkshire, Wales, Scotland and Norfolk, this year’s longlist presents an exciting snapshot of contemporary British fiction writing and publishing.”

Joining India Knight on the judging panel this year are Matt Bates (WH Smith Travel), Cathy Galvin (Word Factory/Newsweek) and Simon Savidge (Savidge Reads).