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Damn You, Spellcheck!

The recipient of a first novel award, I am particularly interested in debut novels.

The Guardian have adopted a new approach in compiling the longlist for their Guardian first book award. Whilst publishers were allowed to submit their favourites for adjudication, the final spot will be left up to members of the public. Readers, bloggers and booksellers have all contributed, championing books that might otherwise have been missed, some of which are:

Michael Stewart’s King Crow: “the story of an alienated teenager and obsessive birder reminiscent of Kes both in its use of birds and in its setting.” (I get worried when other people appear to have written the book I have just written.)  Possibly my favourite ever title for a review on Amazon: ‘Fight Club with Pigeons.’

Penny Goring’s The Zoom Zoom: “a really energetic and raw collection of poetry and short prose themed around a young woman with an abusive father”.

Neil Butler’s The Roost: “a short story collection set in the Shetlands, wonderful! Strange, and bleak, but also uplifting.”

The Roost

Meanwhile, Mexican-born novelist Juan Pablo Villalobos has impressed judges, booking first place on the  longlist with debut novel,  Down the Rabbit Hole, the story of a Latin American drug baron’s son growing up in a luxury hideout surrounded by guns, hit men and dealers, longing for a pygmy hippopotamus for his private zoo. It is one of the first titles published by new imprint And Other Stories. Adopting a co-operative approach, Stefan Tobler founded And Other Stories in 2010 while finishing a PhD in contemporary Brazilian poetry. His aim is to bring ‘mindblowing books’ to you. Praised as “a miniature high-speed experiment with perspective … a deliberate, wild attack on the conventions of literature,” Down The Rabbit Role appears to be a good fit for this philosophy. Funded partly by the Arts Council, partly by private subscribers you too can benefit from first editions, but the main attraction is to be part of the selection process. Offerings from indie publishers feature high on the Booker Longlist and this high profile nomination is yet another boost to alternative markets.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Indeed, inviting nominations from outside the publishing industry has unveiled a lot of alternative publishing strategies, “the most impressive of which has to be Mark MacNicol who not only published the novel Coconut Badger, but put it on as a play as well. Judging by the comments on the thread, that really paid off in terms of bringing theatre-goers to the novel.”

Coconut Badger

However, there is one downside: the judges observed the absence of strong editing in a lot of the work they read. “It confirmed for me that every writer, however talented, needs an editor.”

One comment

  1. Hi Jane. Pleased to have found your blog. Coincidence – I live in Surrey!
    Best, Penny G

    Comment by Penny Goring (@triplecherry) on August 4, 2011 at 8:06 am