East Anglian Book Awards 2021 shortlist revealed
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It’s getting chillier and the nights are drawing in.
Autumn is the season for cosying up and losing yourself in a riveting read.
So it’s timely that today the shortlist for the coveted East Anglian Book Awards 2021 has been revealed.
Now in their 14th year, the awards celebrate writing talent within the east of England. And, as always, from biography and memoir to poetry and fiction, the shortlist provides plenty of inspiration for titles to add to your to-be-read pile.
The shortlisted titles are:
Biography & Memoir
Judged by Hilary Emmett, University of East Anglia
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George Skipper – The Architect's Life and Works by Richard Barnes (Frontier Publishing Ltd)
Biography of the Dereham-born architect who designed some of Norwich’s most famous buildings, including Surrey House the mansion-office of Norwich Union Insurance.
The Easternmost Sky: Adapting to Change in the 21st Century by Juliet Blaxland (Sandstone Press Ltd)
Part memoir, part elegy and part warning, Juliet Blaxland explores how climate change and social change are affecting the Suffolk coast - a place known for its farmland, nature reserves and the fastest coastal erosion in Europe.
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Watercolour Words Fifty Years by John Hurst (Marshland Arts)
Almost 200 watercolours, drawings, photographs and poetry sourced from north Norfolk artist John Hurst’s lifetime portfolio.
Judged by Kate Weston, University of East Anglia
The Talk of Pram Town by Joanna Nadin (Pan Macmillan)
Jean hasn’t seen her daughter Connie since she ran away from the family home in Harlow aged 17 and pregnant. But in the wake of the 1981 Royal Wedding she gets a life-changing call: could she please come and collect the granddaughter she’s never met.
Glass Arrows by Heather Peck (SilverWood Books Ltd)
In the second book in the DCI Greg Geldard thriller series a beautiful rural world hides exploitation of labour, people and of the environment.
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer (Hodder & Stoughton)
Ruth lives in the heart of the city. When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, she chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, her friends and family, and travels to New Zealand in pursuit of her dream life working with whales. Then comes the end of the world.
Judged by Richard Delahaye, University of East Anglia
Highways and Byways: Illustrated Walks in Norfolk by Marion Addy (Marion Addy)
Marion Addy has been walking the highways and byways of her native Norfolk and painting in watercolour all her life. With time on her hands during the pandemic she put her two passions together in an illustrated book of her 15 favourite walks.
The Stubborn Light of Things: A Nature Diary by Melissa Harrison (Faber & Faber)
Novelist, columnist, podcaster and former Londoner Melissa Harrison charts her journey from city-dweller to star-gazing resident of rural Suffolk.
Apparitions of East Anglia by Chris Spalton (Fenbeast Publications)
In his latest book, Chris Spalton, creator of The Eelman Chronicles, explores a selection of tall tales, grim history and extraordinary devils.
History & Tradition
Judged by Pete Goodrum, writer and broadcaster
The End of the Road: A Journey around Britain in Search of the Dead by Jack Cooke (HarperCollins)
A quixotic and surprisingly uplifting travelogue which sees Jack Cooke, author of The Treeclimbers Guide, drive around the British Isles in a clapped-out 40-year-old hearse in search of famous – and not so famous – tombs, graves and burial sites.
How Norwich Fought Against the Plague: Lessons from the Past by Frank Meeres (Poppyland Publishing)
Historian Frank Meeres looks at the outbreak of bubonic plague in Norwich from the first wave in 1348-1349 to its last in 1666-67 and shows how decisions made at the time affected the city in many ways.
Harriet Kettle: Pauper, Prisoner, Patient and Parent in Victorian Norfolk by Andy Reid (Poppyland Publishing)
A rebel against authority in Victorian times, Harriet Kettle lost her mother and, abandoned by her father, grew up in the workhouse. She was imprisoned several times and committed as a lunatic on five separate occasions – eventually marrying and having four children. Andy Reid’s book takes an in depth look at the contexts in which her life was lived – the village of Cranworth, Gressenhall Workhouse, the courts and yards of Norwich, Walsingham and Wymondham Houses of Correction and more, creating a vivid picture of the grittier side of life in Victorian times.
The Mal Peet Children’s Award
Judged by Simon Jones, National Centre for Writing, with assistance from his eight-year-old son
The Wolf Road by Richard Lambert (Everything with Words)
When Lucas survives the car accident that kills his parents, one memory stays with him – of the wolf that caused the crash. A tale of loss for young adults that is also a gripping thriller and a page-turning account of anger and grief.
Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna (Hachette)
Sangu Madanna’s myth-inspired book proves the pen is mightier than the sword when budding artist Kiki finds herself drawn into a world of Hindu legends where only she can save the day.
The Forest of Moon and Sword by Amy Raphael (Hachette)
When Art’s mother is accused of witchcraft and captured, she is determined to get her back at any cost. A lyrical adventure with folklore at its heart.
Judged by Nathan Hamilton, UEA Publishing Project
Boy in Various Poses by Lewis Buxton (Nine Arches Press)
A debut collection of poems from Lewis Buxton, exploring all the different types of boy you can be – tender, awful, thoughtful, vulnerable.
Rose With Harm by Daniel Hardisty (Salt Publishing)
Love poems conjuring relationships just beginning, gone astray, turned wrong or fading from view.
The Feel-Good Movie of the Year by Luke Wright (Penned in the Margins)
Divorced and perhaps a little bruised, Luke Wright journeys off the sunken roads of southern England and into himself, pursued by murderous swans, empty car seats and his father’s skeleton clocks.
The East Anglian Book Awards are a partnership between Jarrold, the Eastern Daily Press, and the National Centre for Writing, supported by UEA Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the PACCAR Foundation.
Of the 18 shortlisted titles, 12 are from independent publishers or are self-published.
They will now be considered for the Book by the Cover Award, judged by members of the East Anglian Writers.
The winning book from each category will be considered by a final judging panel of representatives from Jarrold, Eastern Daily Press, National Centre for Writing and the University of East Anglia.
One of these six finalists will go on to win the Book of the Year Award with prize money of £1,000, courtesy of the PACCAR Foundation.
Norfolk-based author and illustrator Sangu Mandanna is shortlisted for The Mal Peet Children’s Award. She said: “I’m thrilled! East Anglia is my home, and shapes my work every single day, so it’s such an honour to be shortlisted."
Kate Weston, who judged the Fiction category, said: "It’s been an absolute privilege and pleasure to support the East Anglian Book Awards this year in judging the fiction category; with so many wonderful entries encompassing a multitude of fiction genres, these incredible stories really do capture the character and essence of East Anglia and showcase this wonderfully unique region to readers."
The category winners will be announced in the Eastern Daily Press and the East Anglian Daily Times on Saturday, October 30, followed by the Book by the Cover Award, Exceptional Contribution Award, and the Book of the Year Award on Friday, November 26.
To qualify for the East Anglian Book Awards, works must be set largely in East Anglia or be written by an author living in the region – which is defined as Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and area of Fenland District Council.
Books must have been published for the first time between July 25, 2020 and July 30, 2021 – and be available in physical bookshops.
You can discover more about the category winners – as well as the identity of the winner of the East Anglia Book of the Year Award – at a special online event on Thursday November 25 at 6.30pm.
Register for free now at nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk.
To buy any of the shortlisted books go to jarrold.co.uk
Former East Anglian Book of the Year Award winners
2020 – The House of One Hundred Clocks by A.M Howell (Usborne)
2019 – A Claxton Diary: Further Field Notes From a Small Planet by Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
2018 – The East Country: Almanac Tales of Valley and Shore by Jules Pretty (Comstock(
2017 – Lapwing and Fox: Conversations Between John Berger and John Christie by John Christie (Objectif)
2016 – The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson (Hodder and Stoughton)
2015 – Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske by Julia Blackburn (Jonathan Cape)
2014 – After Me Comes The Flood by Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tale)
2013 – Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia, edited by Ian Collins (East Publishing/SCVA)
2012 – The Last Hunters by Candy Whittome (Full Circle Editions)
2011 – Edith Cavell by Diana Souhami (Quercus)
2010 – The Widow’s Tale by Mick Jackson (Faber and Faber)
2009 – Building Norfolk by Matthew Rice (Frances Lincoln)
2008 – Scapegallows by Carol Birch (Virago)