East Anglian Books Awards 2020
It’s that time of year when we focus our attention on the strength of publishing, writing and reading across our region, with the East Anglian Book Awards.
WINNER: GENERAL NON-FICTION
New York to California
From Norwich publisher Propolis Books comes this fascinating, heady mix of memoir, travelogue and nature writing. Page is drawn to return to his East Anglian roots and begins a journey across the region, starting in the tiny Lincolnshire fen-village of New York, heading for the village of California on the East Norfolk coast. Moving through the landscape, taking in fenland, coastline, cities, the Broads, he uncovers and rediscovers fragments of all these places, accepting and celebrating the essentially undefinable essence of East Anglia. By turns funny, contemplative and inspiring, Page reminds us to enjoy and learn from the journey, rather than simply the destination.
WINNER: HISTORY AND TRADITION
Imperial Mud: The Battle for the Fens
Boyce’s subject is the Fens and to a large extent, how they represent changing British history at a time of expanding Empire. He has lived in East Anglia but is a native Australian, whose work as a historian of his own country perhaps made him sympathetic to a landscape fighting against colonisation. Though he does, quite accurately, present the land and its inhabitants as undergoing constant outside encroachments, often occupied in battle or defence – often losing – he is also careful to document the culture and communities of the ‘Fennish’ people as he terms them. In doing so he is able to discuss the whole ecosystem of the Fens, from trade and industry to landscape and ecology.
WINNER: BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR
How to be Autistic
Charlotte Amelia Poe
No stranger to winning prizes, Suffolk-based Poe was awarded the 2018 Spectrum Art Prize for their deeply personal film about living with autism, out of which this book emerged. Praised for giving voice to the autistic perspective with a rare, fresh honesty, this is a record of struggle, pain, confusion, defiance but also of survival, passion, even celebration. For Poe, autism is central to their art and identity and they push against the notion of people trying to ‘fix’ them. It is such a striking, smart, wry viewpoint that has already changed long-held perceptions about what it means to be autistic: a riveting, inspiring piece of memoir.
The House of One Hundred Clocks
A M Howell
This charming novel is set in Edwardian Cambridge, about Helena and her parrot Orbit, who move to the city when Helena’s father is appointed clock-winder to a wealthy man. He is fierce and the rule is that his one hundred clocks must never stop. The story explores grief, not least as Helena’s own mother has died, but is also a smart, pacey mystery as Helena and Orbit soon discover a ghostly figure in the house, strange notes and disappearing keys: she is determined to learn the secrets behind the ticking clocks. Perfect for readers 8+ (and grown-ups too!)
So Many Rooms
A striking debut that has already won the 2020 Seamus Heaney First Collection prize. Scott’s poems are infused with a sense of place, even when this might be imaginary or otherworldly and there is a subtle sense of darkness, sometimes melancholy, that preoccupies the collection. She moves through rooms and spaces dealing with a whole range of themes that cause you to re-read a poem several times to reveal its layers. From a sequence inspired by Tolstoy to a poem set in Greece, she is interested in mixing past and present and questioning the obvious.
By her own admission, Norwich-based Wade describes The Choice as starting life as a ‘light, baking novel’ but it turned into something far darker and more complex: set in a dystopian world where everything you eat is monitored by government and used as a way to judge and control you. Children are weighed at school, sugar is illegal and there is a rather terrifying ‘shame box’ – where people are put on public display for rule-breaking. We meet Olivia, who is pushed to breaking point after witnessing a violent arrest and decides it’s time to fight back. Escapist, thought-provoking and like all good dystopia, scarily easy to imagine.
Prices and availability checked Friday 13 November 2020