From book­seller to prize win­ner

The Guardian - Review - - Forewords -

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

Your Name.

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.

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