So, if all goes according to plan, this evening I will be in London celebrating with the Fiction Uncovered 2013 authors and their books and guests various.
My thanks to chair of judges Louise Doughty and fellow judges Sandeep Mahal and Courttia Newland who have made the whole process such a pleasure, and to the team at Fiction Uncovered for inviting me to do this and for being so helpful and patient (Help... I've lost all the e book versions, can you resend them) and so accommodating when I was confined to my kitchen table and Skype for some of the meetings... and had to watch them all eating Sandy's homemade samosas at the other end.
I think we have come up with a great and varied selection of reading, and I have personally enjoyed each and every one of these books so I hope many of you will enjoy them too...
The Fiction Uncovered 2013 selection is
Lucy Caldwell - All the Beggars Riding
Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast in 1981. She read English at Queens' College, Cambridge and is a graduate of Goldsmith's MA in Creative & Life Writing. She is the author of novels Where They Were Missed (2006) and The Meeting Point (2011), which featured on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and was awarded the Dylan Thomas Prize. Her stage plays, Leaves, Guardians, and Notes to Future Self, and radio dramas, Girl From Mars, Avenues of Eternal Peace, Witch Week, have won awards including the George Devine Award and the Imison Award. In 2011 she was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for her body of work to date.
“The cul-de-sac that is an affair with a married man…loved precisely because he is the sort who won’t leave his wife and children for fear of hurting them. Patrick’s death exposes the fabric of this fragile and tangled web, offering a jagged, searing and intense perspective on love, loss, the chaos of memory and so much more. Grief is what you feel, mourning is what you do, and in this insightful and memorable novel Lucy Caldwell displays a real understanding of that as she explores the lives and the fall-out for the children.” Lynne Hatwell
Anthony Cartwright - How I Killed Margaret Thatcher
Anthony Cartwright was born in Dudley in 1973. He is the author of two previous novels, The Afterglow and Heartland. His books have been shortlisted for several established literary prizes. He worked as an English teacher in East London for a number of years and is currently a school writer-in-residence as part of the First Story project. He lives in North London with his wife and son.
“While some books capture the spirit of a specific time and place, others paint a broad canvas which speaks of timelessness and exact a relevance all of their own. Cartwright manages both in this masterful exploration that has the quiet power of a pebble thrown into a stream, creating ever increasing circles; a boy, a family, a community, a country; to explain not only what happened in ‘80s England, but how we reached the here and now. An urgently necessary work.” Courttia Newland
Niven Govinden - Black Bread White Beer
Niven Govinden is author of novels We Are The New Romantics, Graffiti My Soul, and Black Bread White Beer. His stories have appeared in Five Dials, Time Out, Pen Pusher, First City, BUTT, and on Radio 3. He has been shortlisted for the 2010 Bristol Prize and longlisted for the 2013 DSC Prize.
“A couple’s relationship exposed through the excruciating grief of an early miscarriage, and Niven Govinden’s novel explores every painful corner of this less-written about and much-misunderstood subject. Amal and Claud struggle to make sense of what has happened to them against a background of assumptions, high expectations and social pressures. This is a fluent, involving and beautifully written novel that takes the reader’s sympathies and emotions to the quietest, often most unrecognised limits of human pain.” Lynne Hatwell
Nikita Lalwani - The Village
Nikita Lalwani was born in Rajasthan and raised in Cardiff. Her first novel, Gifted, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction. Nikita Lalwani was shortlisted for the 2008 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. She lives in London.
“In The Village, Nikita Lalwani goes to a world few readers will have heard about, a model prison in India, set up as a social experiment, where people who have committed murder live in a self-sustaining community. Ray Bhullar is part of a documentary team from the UK, living in the village for two months - but she soon discovers that issues of guilt and culpability are far more complex than first appears. Lalwani has a rare gift for getting inside character; you believe equally in the team from media London and a poverty stricken woman who has murdered her husband, in a tough, engaging and often funny read where all your preconceptions will be overturned and no-one is quite how they seem.” Louise Doughty
Nell Leyshon - The Colour of Milk
Nell Leyshon's first novel, Black Dirt, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize. Her plays include Comfort me with Apples, which won an Evening Standard Award, and Bedlam, which was the first play written by a woman for Shakespeare's Globe. She writes for BBC Radio 3 and 4, and won the Richard Imison Award for her first radio play. Nell was born in Glastonbury and lives in Dorset.
“Set in 1830, we follow the personal journal of a fourteen-year-old farm girl with hair the ‘colour of milk’. Mary is the youngest of four daughters who has a strong spirit and desire to learn how to read and write. This book follows the growing relationship between Mary and the local vicar where she is sent to live to care for his invalid wife and to serve as a domestic servant and where she also begins to learn. She sets out her story in her own unique, halting prose, telling the truth in her brutal surroundings. Imaginatively conceived, Nell Leyshon has perfectly captured characters of its time and beautiful prose filled with truth, hope and anticipation that makes this novel a pure joy to read.” Sandeep Mahal
James Meek - The Heart Broke In
James Meek was born in London in 1962 and grew up in Dundee. His novel The People's Act of Love (2005) won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the SAC Book of the Year Award, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and has been published in more than thirty countries. His latest novel The Heart Broke In (2012) was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award 2012 and his novel We Are Now Beginning our Descent (2008) won the Prince Maurice Prize. He is the author of two other novels and two collections of short stories. His journalism has won a number of British and international awards. He lives in London.
“James Meek is one of our best novelists and surely the nearest thing the UK has to a John Irving; his fat, compulsive, brilliant books have wide ranging narratives that cover world issues as well as the stories at the centre of the human heart. Ritchie Shepherd is a television producer with a dark secret; his sister Bec an idealistic scientist with a troubled love life. As both of them struggle to make sense of their father's death at the hands of the IRA and their own complex lives, Ritchie is forced to betray his sister to the tabloid press lest his own secrets be revealed. Few novelists writing today have such an acute ear for the nuances of family life and relationships - but Meek never forgets to set his human stories in a social context, making him a supreme contemporary satirist as well storyteller.” Louise Doughty
Amy Sackville - Orkney
Amy Sackville was born in 1981. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Leeds, and went on to an MPhil in English at Exeter College, Oxford, and an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths. Her first novel was The Still Point.
“A truly talented writer, Amy Sackville has finely constructed a beautiful, mystical novel of love, obsession and loss. Set on a remote Orkney island, Richard, a sixty-year-old English professor is captivated by his lovely young bride. The story unfolds slowly, beginning with excitement and the allure of romance, but the mood changes into something darker. The atmosphere is intense and the change dramatic, as Richard’s love grows obsessive. Sackville’s skill is in her poetic, lyrical writing, full of rich and emotive feelings, the ebb and flow of the waves and descriptions of the beauty, colours and wildness of the islands. An impressive novel.” Sandeep Mahal
Rupert Thomson - Secrecy
Rupert Thomson was born in Eastbourne, and educated at Christ’s Hospital School and Cambridge University, where he studied Medieval History and Political Thought. He is the author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Insult, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize, Death of a Murderer, which was shortlisted for the Costa Prize, and The Book of Revelation, which was made into a feature film by the Australian writer/director, Ana Kokkinos. In 2010 he published a memoir, This Party’s Got to Stop, which won the Writers’ Guild Non Fiction Book of the Year. His new novel, Secrecy, was inspired by the life and work of the eccentric Sicilian wax artist, Gaetano Giulio Zumbo. Rupert Thomson has recently moved back to London.
“A splendorous, dark examination of the artist's mind set in a politically tumultuous Florence where shadowed
streets and alleys mask cruelty and
beauty in equal measure. Secrecy, like one of Zummo's visionary creations, is a twisted hybrid of
fantastical reality, stark and
terrifying, that compels you to acknowledge its existence. Daringly bold and decadent, as only Thompson can.” Courttia