Thursday, August 29, 2013

James Tait Black Prize 2013

Last Sunday 25th August saw the announcement at The Edinburgh International Book Festival of the winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Britain's oldest literary award established in 1919. This prize is awarded to the judges choice of the best work of fiction published in the last twelve months and also the best biography.

The winners this year were Alan Warner for The Deadman's Pedal (fiction) published by Vintage and Tanya Harrod for The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew: Modern Pots, Colonialism and the Counterculture (biography) published by Yale University Press. 
(Publishers precis) "For 16-year-old Simon Crimmons there is not a lot to do. Going nowhere, fed up with school, he leaves to work as a driver on the trains. That summer he is introduced to a world of grown-up glamour, strikes and girlfriends. When Simon falls for the ethereal, aristocratic Varie, he finds freedom and adventure but will it be at a price? Too 'posh' for the railways, too 'working class' for Varie, Simon must navigate what it means to be a man as his world is turned upside down."

(Publishers precis) "British studio potter Michael Cardew (1901-1983) was a man of paradox, a modernist who disliked modernity, a colonial servant who despised Empire, and an intellectual who worked with his hands. After graduating from Oxford in 1923, he made majestic slipware alongside legendary potter Bernard Leach. Wartime service in Ghana made Cardew fiercely critical of British overseas policies; he remained in West Africa intermittently until 1965, founding a local tradition of stoneware. Beginning in the late 1960s, he travelled through Australia and North America, teaching pottery and demonstrating against racism and its consequences. By the time of his death, he had established himself as one of the finest 20th-century potters and as a voice of political dissent and counterculture. This is the first biography of his remarkable life. Harrod's engaging narrative includes interviews with friends, students, and Cardew's two surviving sons. Also included are previously unpublished photographs of Cardew and his family, as well as colour images of his work."

Congratulations to both of the winners.

The other shortlisted works of fiction were;
  • The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
  • The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn
  • Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
The shortlisted works for the biography prize were:
  • Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece by Michael Gorra
  • Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie
  • Circulation: William Harvey’s Revolutionary Idea by Thomas Wright 

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