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13 Apr 2011

The Impress Prize for New Writers

I mention this prize on my Talks & Workshops page, but thought it was worth updating you on what has been going on down at Impress lately.

I think the best book Impress have published so far is their first (2007) prizewinner Consider the Lilies by Carol Fenlon. A rather simple girl left alone on an isolated farm when her father dies becomes pregnant by a passing charmer. Horrified at the very idea of a baby, she always refers to as her as ‘it’ and keeps her hidden away in one of the outbuildings. What happens when a child like that grows up? It’s touching and haunting in equal measure.

More recently and most prestigiously, Roshi Fernando – winner of the 2009 prize for Homesick, a collection of interwoven short stories about Sri Lankan immigrants in London – was short-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. Also short-listed was Booker winner Hilary Mantel, so I am not using the word ‘prestigiously’ loosely here.

Looking to the future, Impress have decided to publish not only the winner but one of the runners-up from the 2010 short list. The winner, This Farewell Symphony by Edmund Bealby-Wright, comes out in June. Billed by its author as ‘a comedy of manias’ and structured along the lines of a classical symphony, it’s about a group of eccentric day trippers on a coach tour of places significant in the life of the composer Josef Haydn. Yes, OK, not a very well established genre, but it is quirky and a bit mad and I loved it.

The other, to be published in September, is Death of the Elver Man by Jennie Finch, a crime thriller set on the Somerset Levels whose central character is a (female) probation officer recently arrived from London and generally considered by her (mostly male) colleagues as being not up to the job.

More about all of these books on the Impress site.

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