Young Writer of the Year Award Ceremony

Yesterday evening all of us on the Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award shadow panel met up again for the official prize-giving ceremony at the London Library.

My train arrived late and then I got lost, twice (I don’t own a smartphone and hadn’t brought a map – foolish!), so I walked through the door just moments before the prize announcement, but as that was the most important part of the event it didn’t matter in the end. If you haven’t already heard, the prize went to Sally Rooney for Conversations with Friends. She’s the first Irish winner and the joint youngest along with Zadie Smith.

This did not really come as a surprise to the shadow panel, even though we unanimously chose Julianne Pachico’s The Lucky Ones as our winner.

Julianne Pachico is third from left.

Three of us had chosen Rooney’s novel as our runner-up, and when I saw it appear in the Times’ Books of the Year feature, I thought to myself that this was probably a clue. In the official press release, judge and Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate writes, “for line by line quality, emotional complexity, sly sophistication and sheer brio and enjoyment, Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends really stood out.”

Judge Elif Shafak states, “I salute Rooney’s intelligent prose, lucid style, and fierce intensity.” Judge Lucy Hughes-Hallett says, “This book stood out for its glittering intelligence, its formal elegance and its capacity to grip the reader. At first reading I was looking forward to bus journeys so that I could read some more. Second time round I was still delighted by the sophistication of its erotic quadrille.”

Being a part of the shadow panel was a wonderful experience and one of the highlights of my literary year.

7 responses

  1. You all look like you were having a brilliant time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was great! Once I had a glass of champagne in hand I could forget the stress of the journey there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What fun, and a well deserved honour. Let’s drink to your next literary adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We all look so happy! (And I love how you can tell we’ve had more wine in the second pic than in the first.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a really fun event. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us and your thoughts on the books as a Shadow Panellist. It sounds like it was a lot of fun and a big responsibility, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we were all relieved that we only had to read a shortlist of five — some awards have longlists of 12-13 that the shadow panels have to read! (e.g. Women’s Prize and Man Booker Int’l.) It was a challenge in some ways, but well worth doing.

      Liked by 1 person

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