We are delighted to reveal that The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary (Faber & Faber) by Suffolk-based novelist and nature columnist Melissa Harrison has been crowned Book of the Year at the East Anglian Book Awards 2021.

The announcement was made at a special online event hosted by awards partners Jarrold, the Eastern Daily Press and the National Centre for Writing with support from UEA Faculty of Arts & Humanities on Thursday evening. Harrison will receive £1,000, generously funded by the PACCAR Foundation.

Melissa Harrison said:

‘If you write about place – and especially, if you write about somewhere other than the place where you grew up – local recognition becomes particularly precious. Having fallen helplessly in love with this part of the world, I’m so proud that The Stubborn Light of Things has been named East Anglian Book of the Year.’

The Stubborn Light of Things is a diary compiled from Harrison’s beloved ‘Nature Notebook’ column in The Times, mapping her relocation from London to rural Suffolk and her joyful engagement with the natural world. The book 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.

The judging panel praised the book for its uplifting writing and deep passion for the Suffolk countryside. They described it as ‘a book with a mission that stands well for this moment’.


Read more about the category winners below.

Biography & Memoir

Judged by Hilary Emmett, University of East Anglia

The Easternmost Sky: Adapting to Change in the 21st Century by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press Ltd)

The Easternmost Sky describes country life and living with coastal erosion, in the recent past, the present and the relatable future. By exploring how climate and social changes are affecting coastal Suffolk, and zooming out from the local to offer a more global perspective, Juliet Blaxland forecasts with wit and imagination the future we will all have to adapt to, in Britain and across the world. Buy now →



Judged by Kate Weston, University of East Anglia

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer (Hodder & Stoughton)

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.

But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before. When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life? Buy now →


General Non-Fiction

Judged by Richard Delahaye, University of East Anglia

The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary by Melissa Harrison (Faber & Faber)

A nature diary by award-winning novelist, nature writer and hit podcaster Melissa Harrison, following her journey from urban south London to the rural Suffolk countryside. Buy now →



History & Tradition

Judged by Pete Goodrum, writer and broadcaster

How Norwich Fought Against the Plague: Lessons from the Past by Frank Meeres (Poppyland Publishing)

Frank Meeres looks at the outbreak of bubonic plague in the city from the first wave in 1348-1349 to its last in 1666-67.  This book shows how decisions made at the time affected the city of Norwich in many ways. Buy now →



The Mal Peet Children’s Award

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. And when he learns that a wild creature is killing livestock on the mountains, he knows it’s the wolf, that it’s come for him, and that he must face it. But that means confrontation – with Nan, school bullies, the authorities – and it also means going onto the high fells in a hunt that becomes a matter of life and death… Buy now →



Judged by Nathan Hamilton, UEA Publishing Project

Rose With Harm by Daniel Hardisty (Salt Publishing)

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. Sure to receive wide critical praise. Buy now →


East Anglian Book Awards book stackYou can purchase all the shortlisted books from the bookshop at independent Norwich-based department store, Jarrold. Browse online here →