Maddie Mortimer is one of ten emerging writers in the running for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022,‘the UK’s most prestigious award for first-time novelists’ (Telegraph). The winning author will receive a £10,000 prize along with a year-long package of support with the National Centre for Writing to help them progress their career. Stay tuned for the shortlist announcement on Tuesday 7 June.
Maddie Mortimer is a former English Literature student. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is her debut novel and is a family drama which follows Lia, a woman who receives a sudden diagnosis that upends her world. Maddie’s novel is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life, a symphonic journey through one woman’s body. Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness, and the darkness within us all. Get to know the author behind the words below.
Read Maddie discuss some contemporary novels which inspired the form and genre-bending of Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies in her article for Pan MacMillan →
Whilst Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is, at its heart, a family drama — it is also a formally ambitious novel. There are three narrative threads in the book that are not only in constant communication, but are actively competing against one another to ‘tell’ the story. By experimenting with form like this, by shifting between styles and building up patterns to pick at and unravel I found that the novel had become about the very act of storytelling; about the way we choose to frame our lives, and which version of ourselves we let take the lead.
Watch Maddie Mortimer introduce Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies for Easons Ireland.
The book is a thorough portrait of Lia’s life; her loves, her triumphs, her secrets and failures, as she nears death. Part of the book takes place within her body, and we are guided through this landscape by a gleeful, destructive, shapeshifting narrator growing stronger by the day until it begins to take hold of the text itself.
Discover Maddie’s journey into writing in her personal blog for Foyles →
What there is, or what I felt, writing furiously again in the place I had grown up, was a switch being flicked, so that everything was momentarily bright and clear and obvious, and I got to see the clumsy little creaturely thing that had been rummaging and bumping about my insides in the dark. I felt it find the door, and step right out.
We write in order to perceive absence – not to conquer it. I like to think of written words as the corners and nooks where the light won’t go. It’s why blank pages are so astonishing.
All that light.
Listen to Maddie read from her debut novel Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies on the Damian Barr’s Literary Salon Podcast →
You know we love a debut, and this week’s featured novel is startlingly good.
Where can I buy Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies?
Check out your local bookshop to buy a copy of Maddie’s ‘extraordinary‘ (Kiran Millwood Hargrave) first novel. Or head to Bookshop.org to support independent bookshops countrywide. Here’s a hand-pick of our favourites:
Looking for more interesting books to add to your ‘to be read’ pile? Check out the full Desmond Elliott Prize longlist on our website! We’d love you to share your thoughts on social media and tag us on Instagram and Twitter. 🥰📚
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