Jessie Greengrass for An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It by (John Murray Originals)
Andrew McMillan for Physical (Cape Poetry)
Max Porter for Grief is the thing with feathers (Faber)
Benjamin Wood for The Ecliptic (Scribner)
The 2016 shortlist was chosen by a judging panel comprised of acclaimed broadcaster James Naughtie, award winning historian Stella Tillyard, and The Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate.
James Naughtie said: “These four authors have different voices, and they’re all original and powerful. No one could read this shortlist – whether one of the novels, the poems or the short stories – without feeling the presence of that talent. It springs from the pages. When you close the books you know you’re going to pick them up again and you also know, with certainty, that these writers are going to weave a lot of magic in years to come.”
Stella Tillyard said: “From a strong long-list we have chosen four books, each with a distinctive and original voice. These books are not only complete and new in themselves; they also show potential for the development of the writer and the genre. That’s a privilege and a thrill.”
Andrew Holgate said: “After the outstanding shortlist we came up with in 2015 for the relaunched Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, I was, frankly, nervous about matching it this year. But I needn’t have worried. This is a sensationally strong list of books and writers, all of whom have a real future in literature, and any of whom as winner would stand comparison with the prize’s extraordinary list of past recipients.”
Jessie Greengrass was born in 1982. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and London, where she now lives with her partner and child. An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It won the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2016.
An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It is a highly original collection of stories from a startling new voice. The twelve stories range over centuries and across the world. There are stories about those who are lonely, or estranged, or out of time. There are hauntings, both literal and metaphorical; and acts of cruelty and neglect but also of penance. Some stories concern themselves with the present, and the mundane circumstances in which people find themselves, some stories concern themselves with the past. Finally, in the title story, a sailor gives his account – violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic – of the decline of the Great Auk. Buy now – Hive.co.uk // Buy now – Amazon.co.uk // Read what the shadow panel said
Andrew McMillan was born in South Yorkshire in 1988. His debut collection, physical, was published in 2015 by Jonathan Cape and was the first poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award. It also won a Somerset Maugham Award, an Eric Gregory Award, the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for Best First Collection and a 2015 Northern Writers Award. It was shortlisted for numerous others including the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Costa Poetry Award. He currently lectures at Liverpool John Moores University and lives in Manchester.
Physical is a stunning debut of raw and intimate poems about masculinity and male desire. Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body – to male friendship and male love – muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving. We are witness here to an almost religious celebration of the flesh: a flesh vital with the vulnerability of love and loss, to desire and its departure. In an extraordinary blend of McMillan’s own colloquial Yorkshire rhythms with a sinewy, Metaphysical music and Thom Gunn’s torque and speed – ‘your kiss was deep enough to stand in’ – the poems in this first collection confront what it is to be a man and interrogate the very idea of masculinity. This is poetry where every instance of human connection, from the casual encounter to the intimate relationship, becomes redeemable and revelatory. Buy now – Hive.co.uk // Buy now – Amazon.co.uk // Read what the shadow panel said
About Grief is the Thing with Feathers: Once upon a time there was a crow, a fairly famous Crow, who wanted nothing more than to care for a pair of motherless children…
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. This extraordinary debut, full of unexpected humour and emotional truth, marks the arrival of a thrilling and significant new talent. Buy now – Hive.co.uk // Buy now – Amazon.co.uk // Read what the shadow panel said
Benjamin Wood was born in 1981 and grew up in northwest England. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, Canada, which he attended with the support of a Commonwealth Scholarship. In 2012, Benjamin’s first novel THE BELLWETHER REVIVALS was published. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Book Prize and le Prix du Roman Fnac, and has gone on to become a bestseller.
The Ecliptic is a rich and immersive story of love, obsession, creativity and disintegration. On a forested island off the coast of Istanbul stands Portmantle, a gated refuge for beleaguered artists. There, a curious assembly of painters, architects, writers and musicians strive to restore their faded talents. Elspeth ‘Knell’ Conroy is a celebrated painter who has lost faith in her ability and fled the dizzying art scene of 1960s London. On the island, she spends her nights locked in her blacked-out studio, testing a strange new pigment for her elusive masterpiece. But when a disaffected teenager named Fullerton arrives at the refuge, he disrupts its established routines. He is plagued by a recurring nightmare that steers him into danger, and Knell is left to pick apart the chilling mystery. Where did the boy come from, what is ‘The Ecliptic’, and how does it relate to their abandoned lives in England? Buy now – Hive.co.uk // Buy now – Amazon.co.uk // Read what the shadow panel said