The shortlist for the coveted East Anglian Book Awards 2021 has been revealed, celebrating the very best of publishing, writing, and reading in the region.
You can purchase all the shortlisted books from the bookshop at independent Norwich-based department store, Jarrold. Browse online here >>
Now in their fourteenth year, the awards celebrate writing talent within the East of England. The East Anglian Book Awards are a partnership between Jarrold, the Eastern Daily Press, and the National Centre for Writing, supported by UEA Faculty of Arts & Humanities and the PACCAR Foundation.
Kate Weston, who judged the Fiction category, said:
‘It’s been an absolute privilege and pleasure to support the East Anglian Book Awards this year in judging the fiction category; with so many wonderful entries encompassing a multitude of fiction genres, these incredible stories really do capture the character and essence of East Anglia and showcase this wonderfully unique region to readers.’
Judged by Hilary Emmett, University of East Anglia
George Skipper was a Norwich-born architect who designed impressive buildings including Surrey House, the mansion-office of Norwich Union Insurance. George Skipper – The Architect’s Life and Works provides all that is known of the man, with information from his family, and descriptions of his works in Somerset, Kent, Cambridge, London and Norfolk. Sources include the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Norfolk Record Office. The book is well illustrated in colour, to include new photographs, archive images, family photos, elevation drawings, and pages from the pocket-sketchbooks.
The Easternmost Sky is part memoir, part elegy and part warning.
It was written on the Suffolk coast, in a place known for its farmland, nature reserves and the fastest coastal erosion in Europe. By exploring how climate change and social change are already affecting this agriculturally important part of the world, it is possible to imagine a very different landscape, to glimpse the future and to understand how these changes will affect us all.
Containing 217 pages, with almost 200 watercolours, drawings, photographs and poetry, sourced from John’s lifetime portfolio, this publication spans 50 years of hair raising, humorous, intriguing and often unbelievable anecdotes, encounters and adventures. Not only does this book delve into John’s early years, his primitive rural upbringing, mentors, friends and influences, it also portrays the artist’s genuine love of the natural world and desire to record social and environmental change.
Judged by Kate Weston, University of East Anglia
For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, comes a story about mothers, daughters and second chances . . .
It’s 1981. Eleven-year-old Sadie adores her beautiful and vibrant mother, Connie, whose dreams of making it big as a singer fill their tiny house in Leeds. It’s always been just the two of them. Until the unthinkable happens.
Prey, predator or protector – which are you? A beautiful rural world hides exploitation of labour, people and of the environment. Glass Arrows is the second book in the DCI Greg Geldard thriller series.
Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.
When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand. The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.
Judged by Richard Delahaye, University of East Anglia
Marion Addy has been walking the highways and byways of her native Norfolk and painting in watercolour all her life. With time on her hands during the 2020 pandemic, Marion has put her two passions together in this beautifully illustrated book of her fifteen favourite walks. The description of each walk includes: A hand drawn map showing the route and marked with locations of points of interest.
Moving from scrappy city verges to ancient, rural Suffolk, where Harrison eventually relocates, this diary – compiled from her beloved Nature Notebook column in The Times – maps her joyful engagement with the natural world and demonstrates how we must first learn to see, and then act to preserve, the beauty we have on our doorsteps – no matter where we live.
A perceptive and powerful call-to-arms written in mesmerising prose, The Stubborn Light of Things confirms Harrison as a central voice in British nature writing.
East Anglia is a region filled with history and mystery. From the vast skies of the isolated fens, to the desolate Suffolk coast via the church ruins and deserted settlements of Norfolk, it is an oft overlooked part of Britain, dismissed as flat and featureless.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In this latest book by Chris Spalton, creator of ‘The Eelman Chronicles’, we explore a selection of tall tales, grim history and extraordinary events from East Anglia. Out in that tranquil rural environment are ghosts, witches and devils – and these are some of their stories.
Judged by Pete Goodrum, writer and broadcaster
A wonderfully quixotic, charming and surprisingly uplifting travelogue which sees Jack Cooke, author of the much-loved The Treeclimbers Guide, drive around the British Isles in a clapped-out forty-year old hearse in search of famous – and not so famous – tombs, graves and burial sites.
The global pandemic of 2020-21 has upset the lives of millions throughout the world bringing into stark reality the fragility of our way of life or even human existence. The author examines the surviving records from the outbreak of bubonic plague in the 14th and 17th centuries and finds, like today, there was also a recognition that certain ‘key workers’ were needed to ensure society continued to function as normally as possible. While some made fortunes during times of strife, the devastating effect on the economy, with the poorest in society being the worst hit, is perhaps the least well documented. However, glimpses of this economic impact can be seen from the restrictions that were imposed on goods transported from centres of trade such as London and, closer to home, Yarmouth. Some historians argue that plague heralded in seismic changes as a ‘new normal’ led to rapid social change: this book shows how decisions made at the time affected the city in many ways.
As well as providing a detailed narrative of Harriet Kettle’s life, this book explores in depth the contexts in which it was lived: the village of Cranworth, Gressenhall Workhouse, the courts and yards of Norwich, Walsingham and Wymondham Houses of Correction, the Norfolk County Lunatic Asylum, the Bethlem Hospital in London and Toftwood, a suburb of East Dereham. In so doing, it provides a vivid picture of the grittier sides of life in Victorian times.
Judged by Simon Jones, National Centre for Writing, with assistance from his eight-year-old son
The Wolf Road by Richard Lambert (Everything with Words)
When fifteen-year old Lucas survives the car accident that kills his parents, one memory stays with him – of the wolf that caused the crash. Forced to leave his home and live with his Nan in the Lake District, Lucas struggles to adjust to his strange, new world.
For fans of the Aru Shah and Serpent’s Secret series, this action-packed fantasy-adventure sees a girl’s drawings of Indian mythology spring to vivid life–including the evil god who seeks to enter the real world and destroy it.
When Art’s mother is accused of witchcraft and captured, she is determined to get her back – at any cost. A lyrical adventure with folklore at its heart, for fans of The House with Chicken Legs.
Twelve-year-old Art lives in a small village in Scotland. Her mother has always made potions that cure the sick, but now the townspeople say she is a witch. One cloudless night, Art’s mother is arrested and taken to England. Art mounts her horse, taking a sword, a tightrope, and a herbal recipe book, and begins a journey through wild forests, using nature’s signs and symbols to guide her. But will she spot the signs from the omens? Will she reach her mother, before it’s too late?
Judged by Nathan Hamilton, UEA Publishing Project
Boy in Various Poses by Lewis Buxton (Nine Arches Press)
A debut collection of poems from Lewis Buxton, Boy in Various Poses explores all the different types of boy you can be tender, awful, thoughtful, vulnerable. Here, a maelstrom of mental health, male bodies, and sexuality is laid bare with wit and curiosity, and the complexity and multiplicity of gender itself is revealed.
This long-awaited debut from Daniel Hardisty shows off his exceptional lyric gifts to thrilling effect. Poised and poignant, Hardisty’s confessional poems offer love’s realisations, threats and transgressions. The poet is often caught travelling – remote and removed from his environments, as the poems capture concrete moments of transition with bittersweet backstories of love, regret, suspense and loss.
Both brazen and elegiac, these poems pull on the ‘tidy hem’ of responsible existence, unravelling the banal frustrations of online outrage and ageing friends, and grasping at something ‘beyond our squeaky comprehension’. Wright files through the shackles of cynicism to ask how can we let go without giving up.
Of the 18 shortlisted titles, 12 are from independent publishers or self published.
They will now be considered for the Book by the Cover Award, judged by members of the East Anglian Writers. The winning book from each category will be considered by a final judging panel of representatives from Jarrold, Eastern Daily Press, National Centre for Writing and University of East Anglia. One of these six finalists will go on to win the Book of the Year Award with prize money of £1,000, courtesy of the PACCAR Foundation.
Norfolk-based author and illustrator Sangu Mandanna is shortlisted for The Mal Peet Children’s Award. She said:
‘I’m thrilled! East Anglia is my home, and shapes my work every single day, so it’s such an honour to be shortlisted.’
The category winners will be announced in the Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 30 October, followed by the Book by the Cover Award, Exceptional Contribution Award, and the Book of the Year Award on Friday 26 November.
To qualify for the East Anglian Book Awards, works must be set largely in East Anglia or be written by an author living in the region – which is defined as Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and area of Fenland District Council.
Books must have been published for the first time between 25 July 2020 and 30 July 2021 – and be available in physical bookshops.
Discover more about the category winners – as well as the identity of the winner of the East Anglia Book of the Year Award – at a special online event on Thursday 25 November, 6.30pm GMT. Register for free now >>