Young Writer of the Year Award shortlist

Now  that the shortlist has been announced in the Sunday Times, I can also share it here:

For the first time ever, the judges have chosen five titles, having apparently found it just too difficult to decide on four!

  • Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman, Minoo Dinshaw (biography)
  • The End of the Day, Claire North (science fiction novel)
  • The Lucky Ones, Julianne Pachico (linked short stories)
  • Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney (contemporary novel)
  • The Lauras, Sara Taylor (contemporary novel)

My initial thoughts: I only predicted Sally Rooney, and am surprised not to see Fiona Mozley here. My only other disappointment is that no poetry has been recognized this year.

There is great variety on this list, ranging as it does from sci fi lite to biography/history. I have only read part of one of the books: an unsuccessful attempt with The Lauras last December, though I am more than happy to try again because I loved The Shore so much. I am now halfway through.

I enjoyed the one book I read by Claire North very much (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August) so look forward to trying another, and I have heard a lot about the Sally Rooney book and read various reviews (it seems to be a polarizing read, though).

I think we are all feeling a bit daunted by the 640-page biography about a historian I had never heard of. However, I have been getting more into biographies so will be interested to see how the author shapes this life story. I am a few chapters in so far, but have a feeling I will be reading it right up until our decision meeting.

I will be posting 1+ shortlist review per week in November, starting with The Lauras.

10 responses

  1. I enjoyed Conversations with Friends, and both The Lauras and The Lucky Ones have caught my eye. Hadn’t heard of the Claire North but it looks vey interesting. Will look forward to your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only one I know is the Rooney. I agree with Kate that Claire North looks very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed both the Rooney and the Taylor. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m looking forward to reading your reviews and it’s cool that I follow more than one of the shadow panel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope we don’t up repeating each other too much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll find the viewpoints interesting, I’m sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t blame you for feeling daunted by the biography. I just looked the guy up, and from what I glanced at he didn’t sound very exciting. But it’ll be interesting to see how wrong I am – because I’m sure that I am!

    All of the others sound promising. Have fun!


    1. So far (~page 70) Runciman’s life is most interesting for who he came into contact with: his father was a politician, and the prime minister’s son was one of his closest school friends; at Cambridge he hung around with Cecil Beaton, who took the cover photo. I think later on he’ll become more interesting in his own right. I know a Scottish island comes into it, which is always appealing. In any case, I will probably have to do a quick calculation today of how many pages remain divided by how many days until our decision meeting so I’m sure I’m on track. I often have to do that with doorstoppers or I fail to make adequate progress.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, a Scottish island sounds good! I wonder what happens there?…


    2. I think his family own/owned the island of Eigg? (Haven’t gotten that far yet.)

      Liked by 1 person

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