So it was back down to London yesterday evening for the ceremony of the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. The ceremony was held in the wonderful ‘Red Room’ of the London Library at St James Square near Piccadilly and all those Christmassy lights.
The room gradually filled with all those involved with the award and the champagne flowed (decent stuff too – Veuve Cliquot!) It was lovely to meet up with Kim, Eric and Naomi who had been on last year’s shadow judges panel alongside my fellow shadow judges from this year. Last year’s shadow panel also picked a book of short stories by Jessie Greengrass, but the judges picked Max Porter’s novella, Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Would we be in sync this year?
It was time for the announcement. Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate described each of the five shortlisted books and their authors, before announcing that the winner of the prize was Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, making Rooney (right) the joint youngest winner with Zadie Smith.
As a shadow panel, we’d initially found it hard to call who would win, but as many newspapers and other publications included Rooney’s novels in their best of the year lists over the past couple of week, the writing was on the wall. All five shortlisted writers won £500 and a package of support from Warwick University – Rooney gets £5000 and a residency at Warwick in addition.
Congratulations to Sally and all the other shortlisted authors.
We had to grab a photo opportunity with our shadow judges winner, Julianne Pachico though…
It has been an absolutely lovely experience to be part of this award and to have made some super new friends along the way. Special thanks to Maddy Pickard who has been our superb arranger.
P.S. The giveaway that we ran across our blogs is now closed. Dane will be generating the random numbers to pick the winners and will get in touch with them to arrange their book prizes.