The Super Six: shortlisted books battle for the New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature

THE six books that will fight it out for the second New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature have been revealed. They include works by Scallop artist Maggi Hambling and Akenfield author Ronald Blythe, as well as a hefty tome detailing more than 2,500 species and hybrids of plants and 400 mosses recorded in Suffolk.

Also through to the final stage are books by Blake Morrison, Jim Kelly and Jeremy Page.

According to Suffolk writer Nicci Gerrard, she and her fellow judges have chosen “with difficulty and pleasure – by negotiation, compromise, animated discussion and many cups of tea – a shortlist that bears witness to the depth and width and ambition of East Anglian literature, and demonstrates how its landscape and culture influence its writers and is articulated by them”.

After the final judging processes, the winner will be announced at a dinner on September 7. The triumphant author will receive �2,000, with �500 going to the runner-up.

The competition – whose sponsors include Gotelee Solicitors and Scrutton Bland accountants – is organised by the Ipswich Institute and is held every two years. The Institute, based in Tavern Street, is an independent charity running educational courses, talks and visits, and a lending library.

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Nicci Gerrard says the shortlist consists of

• a book in which the collected wisdom and kindness of one of East Anglia’s most eloquent and honoured writers, Ronald Blythe, is celebrated (Aftermath)

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• a beautifully-illustrated and evocative account, by Maggi Hambling, of the story of the making of the iconic Aldeburgh Scallop sculpture, which is also a story of the sea and the people who live by it (The Aldeburgh Scallop)

• Jim Kelly’s dark baroque thriller, set in a bleakly-rendered King’s Lynn, in which the Gothic intricacies of plot are controlled by fine sense of pace and character (Death Watch)

• Blake Morrison’s tightly-focussed, deftly-structured, creepy and dread-filled account of obsession and revenge, uncoiling over a long, hot weekend in East Anglia (The Last Weekend)

• Jeremy Page’s story of bereavement and human solitude, set in the muddy estuaries of East Anglia and its grey North Sea, which has an extraordinary sense of atmosphere, from the tour de force of its first chapter on (The Wake)

• and the hefty, meticulous, gorgeously-illustrated, mathematically-charted, densely-informative, taxonomically-detailed account of all the plants that occur or have occurred in Suffolk (Flora of Suffolk).

Before the result is announced in the autumn, the authors have a date on Tuesday, July 5. As part of Ip-art, the Ipswich Arts Festival, they will attend an evening of readings and conversation – the Shortlist Showcase – at the Institute Library.

Tickets are available from the Ipswich Institute. More details:

The Super Six

The 2011 New Angle Prize for Literature Judges’ Shortlist:

Aftermath by Ronald Blythe (Black Dog Books, 2010)

The Aldeburgh Scallop by Maggi Hambling (Full Circle Editions, 2010)

Death Watch by Jim Kelly (Penguin, 2010)

The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison (Chatto & Windus, 2010)

The Wake by Jeremy Page (Viking, Penguin 2009)

A Flora of Suffolk by MN Sanford & R J Fisk (Sanford & Fisk, 2010)

2011 New Angle Prize judges

Mark Cocker: author, journalist and naturalist. His book Crow Country won the inaugural New Angle Prize for East Anglian literature in 2009.

Nicci Gerrard: a writer and journalist who lives in Suffolk. With her husband, Sean French, she has written 13 best-selling psychological thrillers under the name of Nicci French. She also writes solo novels, the most recent being The Winter House.

Gill Lowe: Senior lecturer in the English department at University Campus Suffolk. Has taught creative writing for the University of East Anglia, where she studied for a Masters. Her dissertation led to the publication of a biographical monograph about Virginia Woolf’s mother.

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