Women of words

The win­ners of this year’s New An­gle Lit­er­ary prize

EADT Suffolk - - Inside - www.ip­swichin­sti­tute.org.uk/NAP.html Twit­ter @PrizeNewAn­gle

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

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