Women of words
The winners of this year’s New Angle Literary prize
SUFFOLK author Julia Blackburn has won the 2017 New Angle book prize for her unconventional biography of an East Anglian fisherman, Threads, The Delicate Life of John Craske.
In the first all-women shortlist since the East Anglian literary prize began, Jill Dawson’s The Crime Writer was runner-up, a book inspired by a visit the crime writer Patricia Highsmith made to Earl Soham. The judges said Julia Blackburn had produced “a beautiful, surprising book that defies definition: it’s about biography, landscape, art, history and grief”. Jill Dawson’s work, they said, was “immensely rewarding, but also deeply disconcerting. Like Patricia Highsmith, the crime writer in question, we start to lose our own grip on reality”.
Taking the Suffolk Libraries Readers’
‘immensely rewarding, but also deeply disconcerting’
Choice Award was former Ipswich High School for Girls pupil Rosy Thornton, who used to live at East Bergholt and is now a Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Her first collection of short stories, Sandlands, is based on the spread-out village of Blaxhall, near Wickham Market. The 16 tales, inspired by the landscape and natural history of the Suffolk Sandlings, local folklore and heritage, “capture perfectly that the past and present are separated only by a thin screen” said the judges. Also on the shortlist were Fiona Melrose’s debut novel Midwinter, Julie Myerson’s The Stopped Heart, and The Essex
Serpent by Sarah Perry. The biennial New Angle Prize for Literature was established in 2009 by the Ipswich Institute, a charity running a lending library and programme of leisure-learning courses in the heart of the town, to celebrate writing inspired by the region of East Anglia.
The competition is sponsored by Gotelee Solicitors and Scrutton Bland accountants. There are no categories – entries simply have to have a strong regional theme. Past winners have included Mark Cocker’s Crow Country, Death Watch, by Jim Kelly, and Kate Worsley’s She Rises.
This year’s judges were Midge Gillies, Cambridgeshire-based biographer and director of creative writing at Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, Steve Russell, booklover, journalist and leaderwriter for the East Anglian Daily Times, and Kate Worsley, Harwich-based author of prizewinning first novel She Rises.
Rosy Thornton Jill Dawson. Photo: Yves Salmon