Ben Fergusson for The Spring of Kasper Meier (Little, Brown)
Sarah Howe for Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus)
Sunjeev Sahota for The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
Sara Taylor for The Shore (William Heineman)
The three judges for the 2015 Award were Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times Literary Editor; Peter Kemp, Sunday Times Chief Fiction Reviewer; and Sarah Waters, author and recipient of the prize in 2000.
“This is a wonderful line-up of books from four extremely talented writers. I think what’s particularly thrilling is the range of work on display here, as well as its quality. Each of these books confronts the complexities of life, but each has its own distinct style, its own energy. Collectively, they offer a very exciting snapshot of the literary scene.” – Sarah Waters, award judge, author and previous winner
“So many things about the award in its new incarnation are better than I could possibly have hoped for: the huge response by publishers and writers to the initial call-in; the immense support provided by Peters Fraser & Dunlop; the enthusiastic way in which the prize has been received; and the sheer quality of this shortlist, which is better than any previous shortlist I can remember for the award. The diversity of genres – poetry, historical thriller, novel and linked short stories – speaks volumes for the adventurous nature of much modern writing, and the variety of themes and approaches is immensely impressive. There is such quality here, and it’s a shortlist to be proud of.” – Andrew Holgate, award judge and literary editor at The Sunday Times
Ben Fergusson, The Spring of Kasper Meier (Little, Brown)
Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator. Born in Southampton in 1980, he studied English Literature at Warwick University and Modern Languages at Bristol University, and has worked for ten years as an art book editor and publisher. His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes. His debut novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier, won the Betty Trask Prize and the HWA Debut Crown Award. He currently lives in Berlin.
In The Spring of Kasper Meier it is spring 1946 and Berlin is a city of ruins, poverty and a thriving black market. Among the debris of the collapsed Third Reich, occupying soldiers begin to be murdered. A young ‘rubble woman’, Eva Hirsch, pays a visit to Kasper Meier, a cynical, one-eyed black-market trader, gifted in finding things for people, from tinned ham and penicillin, to information. This nervous young girl needs Kasper to find a British pilot for her and, when he refuses, she secures his services with her own information: she knows that Kasper is keeping a dangerous secret.
Sarah Howe was born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother, and moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia, was published in 2009, and she received an Eric Gregory Award in 2010. Her first book of poems, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A powerful performer of her work, she has read at festivals internationally and on BBC Radio 3 & 4. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit, an online journal of poetry and criticism. She is currently a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University.
An enthralling exploration of self and place, of migration and inheritance: in her exquisite first collection, Loop of Jade, Sarah Howe explores a dual heritage, journeying back to Hong Kong in search of her roots.
Sunjeev Sahota was born in 1981 in Derbyshire. His debut novel, Ours are the Streets, was called ‘Nothing short of extraordinary’ Observer; ‘A moral work of real intelligence and power’ The Times. He is one of Granta’s Best of British Novelists 2013.
Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota’s generous, unforgettable novel The Year of the Runaways is – as with Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance – a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. The novel was also shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
Sara Taylor is herself a socially anxious product of rural Virginia and the homeschooling movement. She traded her health for a BFA from Randolph College, and her sanity for an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia. Following the MA her supervisor refused to let her leave, so she remains at the UEA to chip away at a double-focus PhD in censorship and fiction. She spends an unprecedented amount of time on delayed trains between Norwich and her husband’s house in Reading. The Shore, her debut novel, has been highly acclaimed and was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2015 and for the Guardian First Book Award 2015.
Dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, The Shore is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished debut by a young writer of astonishing gifts.