From bookseller to prize winner
Earlier this week I found out I had won Blackwell’s book of the year. To win this prize for Everything Under means the world to me. Not only did I work as a bookseller at the bookshop for three years when I first moved to Oxford in 2012, I actually edited some of my novel while in the Blackwell’s staff room – it became the book it is because of my time spent among those shelves.
What I miss most about being a bookseller is the immersion in books. I worked on the fiction floor and always knew what to look out for. I don’t know if I was the most dedicated worker – a lot of my time was spent secretly browsing – but I wonder if there was a sort of osmosis that happened there, all of those words somehow seeping in. As a writer I am very grateful to all the booksellers who voted for my book. As a reader, I’m grateful for booksellers as fiercely opinionated and passionate advocates for the books they love. I can’t go into Blackwell’s without someone pressing a new favourite into my hands. Now is the time of year when we can benefit from their experience and repay their enthusiasm. (possibly pushed into it by plans for another movie) has said that he’ll be revisiting
Meanwhile, Ali Smith and Hilary Mantel are mid-series, Jonathan Coe has revived his Rotters’ Club characters in Middle England, and Rachel Cusk this year completed her Faye trilogy, with Kudos. In children’s fiction, Philip Pullman has embarked on providing Lyra’s backstory, while JK Rowling has given fans a Harry Potter sequel on stage and Hogwarts prequels on film.
And these literary types are entitled to argue that such books can often outdo the originals in imaginative energy – after all, The Lord of the Rings was a follow-up to The Hobbit.