Looking for biographies and memoirs to gift for Christmas? Through November and December, we’re casting a weekly spotlight on some of the best books based or published in the East of England, courtesy of the East Anglian Book Awards 2022.
Now in their fifteenth 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. The overall prize is sponsored by The PACCAR Foundation.
Biography & Memoir
Judged by Cassia Hayward-Fitch, PhD researcher in American Studies, University of East Anglia
For fans of deeply moving memoirs…
Iron Man by Lynne Bryan (Salt Publishing)
In Iron Man, Lynne Bryan writes movingly and candidly about disability, the vulnerability of the body and mind, and the frailty and strength of our corporeality. She writes insightfully and thought-provokingly about the ways in which women’s access to head space and the physical and economic space for creativity can be restricted or blocked – sometimes by the people they love best and who love them best; and, of course, sometimes by themselves.
Our judges said that this memoir…
‘brilliantly examines how her father’s disability affected his sense of his own masculinity.’
For those looking for a meditation on grief and father-daughter relationships…
Sea-Change by Jessica Streeting (Propolis)
Jessica Streeting and her family move east in their ancient London taxi to the deep countryside of Norfolk. It is 1975 and the rector has a new position at the church of St Agnes in the village of Cawston. Here they find a world populated by people who embody both the ancient and new of late 20th century rural life.
In this epic poem Jess revisits that place, for the first time addressing the grief she so quickly suppressed in the manner of the age. She brings to life in heart-breaking clarity the joy of a world made by industrious children and their imaginations, until unforeseen tragedy muted the colours of that golden time. Sea-Change is a book whose potency reminds us not only of the power of shared stories, but also that how they are told can make us all feel like players in their drama.
For fans of artist biographies and personal histories…
Constable: A Portrait by James Hamilton (Orion Publishing Co)
John Constable, the revolutionary nineteenth-century painter of the landscapes and skies of southern England, is Britain’s best-loved but perhaps least understood artist.
His paintings reflect visions of landscape that shocked and perplexed his contemporaries: attentive to detail, spontaneous in gesture, brave in their use of colour. Yet Constable was also an active and energetic correspondent. His letters and diaries – there are over one thousand letters from and to him – reveal a man of passion, opinion and discord, while his character and personality is concealed behind the high shimmering colour of his paintings.
James Hamilton’s biography reveals a complex, troubled man, and explodes previous mythologies about this timeless artist, and establishes him in his proper context as a giant of European art.
Our judges said:
‘It is a very readable book which does a good job of bringing a historical figure to life on its pages.’
These books are available to buy from Jarrold, third floor, London St, Norwich NR2 1JF. You can also browse online here.
The category winners for the East Anglian Book Awards 2022 will be announced in the Eastern Daily Press in January 2022, followed by the Overall Book of the Year Award and Exceptional Contribution Award on Friday 17 February.
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