The shortlist for the coveted East Anglian Book Awards 2023 has been revealed, celebrating the very best of publishing, writing, and reading in the region.
Now in their sixteenth year, the awards celebrate writing talent within the East of England. The East Anglian Book Awards are a partnership between Jarrolds, the Eastern Daily Press, and the National Centre for Writing, supported by UEA Faculty of Arts & Humanities.
The shortlisted titles are:
Biography & Memoir
Judged by Stephen Bumfrey, former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter
- An Angel Amongst Strange Bears: John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, Blickling Hall by Joy Beresford Frye (Poppyland Publishing)
- Sit Still Timmy! by Tim MacWilliam (Amazon)
- 36 Hours by Fiona Mason (Word After Word)
Judged by Andrew McDonnell, Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing, University Centre Peterborough
- The Others of Edenwell by Verity M Holloway (Titan Books)
- The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer (Orion)
- Foxash by Kate Worsley (Tinder Press)
Judged by Susan Burton, historian and writer
- The Meaning of Geese by Nick Acheson (Chelsea Green Publishing)
- The History of the World in 100 Plants by Simon Barnes (Simon & Schuster)
- The Invention of Essex: The Making of an English County by Tim Burrows (Profile Books)
History & Tradition
Judged by Amanda Hopkinson, Senior Fellow, University of East Anglia, and Victoria Manthorpe, biographer and local historian
- Exploring Norfolk’s Deep History Coast by Dr John A. Davies and Dr David M.G. Waterhouse (The History Press)
- The Road by Christopher Hadley (HarperCollins)
- Norwich Textiles: A Global Story 1750-1840 by Michael Nix (Costume and Textile Association)
The Mal Peet Children’s Award
Judged by Ella Micheler, translator, publisher and editor, Kurumuru Books
- The Golden Mango Tree by Karen Li (Branching Out Books)
- Hairy Humbug Hog by Oliver Sheldrake
- Monster in the Woods by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
Judged by Shannon Clinton-Copeland, writer, poet and researcher
- Wild Life by James McDermott (Nine Arches Press)
- Before the Dreadful Daylight Starts: An Anthology of Norfolk Poetry by Cameron Self and Kevin Gardner (Waterland Books)
- The Human Portion by Nicola Warwick (V. Press Poetry)
While we received submissions from across the country, of the 18 shortlisted titles, one is published by Lowestoft-based independent publishers Poppyland Publishing and another published by Norwich-based independent charity, the Costume and Textile Association.
Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Stephen Bumfrey, who judged the Biography & Memoir category, said:
‘Many of my studio guests over recent years have been from the literary world. Their stories, imaginations and life experiences never failed to engage with the audience.
No surprise then that the invitation to be one of the judges for the 2024 awards was one I simply couldn’t turn down. And what a journey! I’ve been delighted, surprised and occasionally shocked. I’ve had plenty of laugh out loud moments but also times when I’ve been close to tears by the power of written word.’
Christopher Hadley is a journalist and author writing at the murky, wonderful intersection of history and folklore. His book The Road is shortlisted for the History & Tradition category. He said:
‘A sense of place is always important to my writing and in The Road it is the landscape and history of East Anglia that haunts every mile, every page, so to have this recognition feels very special, not least because of the involvement of the National Centre for Writing and UEA and all they mean to anyone who cares about words and the power of story.’
Shannon Clinton-Copeland, who judged the the Poetry category, said:
‘We are so lucky to have such a high standard of creative work being produced in and about East Anglia. Reading these entries was never a moment of labour—I have come out of it with such a deep renewed appreciation for the work that is made here, for East Anglia’s wild and urban spaces, for the poets who have translated them so masterfully to paper.’
The winning book from each category will be considered by a final judging panel of representatives from Jarrolds, 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.
We are also opening submissions for the public to nominate organisations or individuals who contribute to making East Anglia a rich cultural destination for writers and readers alike for the Exceptional Contribution Award. Nominations can be submitted via this Google Form. The deadline for submissions is 10am, Friday 15 December.
The category winners will be announced in the Eastern Daily Press in January, followed by the Overall Book of the Year Award and Exceptional Contribution Award later in the year.
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