“Diamond-sharp prose with an affecting poetic pulse, and surging emotions that are perfectly tempered and managed. This is a writer bursting with originality.” – judge James Naughtie
Max Porter has been awarded The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2016 for his extraordinary debut Grief is the Thing with Feathers (Faber), the moving story of a widower and his young sons drawn from his own experience of childhood loss and inspired by the work of Ted Hughes, at a special evening ceremony in The London Library.
Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on bereavement, Grief is the Thing with Feathers has been one of 2016’s breakout publishing success, Waterstones Book of the Month, a bestseller in both hardback and paperback charts, winner of this year’s International Dylan Thomas Prize, and the winner of last month’s BAMB Readers Awards in the fiction category.
The prize is awarded annually to the best work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35, either published or self-published, and has gained attention and acclaim across the publishing industry and press. £5,000 is given to the overall winner and £500 to each of the three runners-up.
This year’s award was judged by a panel comprised of acclaimed broadcaster James Naughtie, award-winning historian Stella Tillyard, and The Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate.
Read an interview with Max Porter by Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate in The Sunday Times.
Stella Tillyard said: “We found four young writers with fine futures this year, which has made the judging process a privilege. Each of the shortlisted books is remarkable, but what stood out for me in Porter’s work was its intimacy and toughness and the fact that it defied definition. His book is a novella, a prose poem, a comic elegy and a meditation on the progress of grief all at once. Porter’s joyful linguistic inventiveness, and the confidence that runs through the book, augur well for his future career.”
Andrew Holgate said: “All four writers on our shortlist have written outstanding books and have significant futures ahead of them, I’m absolutely confident of that. But what stood out about Max Porter’s book was its extraordinary inventiveness, combined with its remarkable emotional honesty. For a book to be as formally bold as Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is rare; for one to be as adventurous and ambitious in its literary references even rarer. But to produce something from these constituent parts that is still so poignant, direct and emotionally resonant is truly remarkable.”
It was also announced at the ceremony that a partnership with the University of Warwick had been developed for 2017 as organisers look to broaden the award’s platform for supporting and nurturing the country’s young writing talent. From 2017, the award will be run in association with the University of Warwick, who will amplify the partnership by offering a bespoke 10-week residency for the award’s winner, run a day festival of events, and provide a year-round programme of on-campus and digital support for award alumni and the year’s shortlist.