Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad has been one of the most talked about books of the last year. Shortlisted for several awards and winner of the National Book Award it was even included in President Obama’s summer reading list of 2016.
And now The Underground Railroad has won maybe the most prestigious literary award of them all as Colson Whitehead is announced as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The Underground Railroad (US – UK) is a work of magical realism, reimagining American slavery in a style that has been compared to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Critical reactions of the book have been fantastic and the reviews have kept it at the top of the best sellers list since last Autumn.
Other notable literary winners this year are Lynn Nottage for her play Sweat, currently running on Broadway, Heather Thompson for History for her nonficton works Blood in the Water (US – UK), Hisham Matar for Biography for his book The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between (US – UK), Tyehimba Jess for poetry for his second collection titled Olio (US – UK), and Matthew Desmond for General Nonfiction for his book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (US – UK).
The hall of fame for sci-fi and fantasy has been going since 1996 and Lee will be the first comic book writer to be included. Both he and Rowling have made a significant impact on the world of pop culture this past decade, with a stream of books and movies and an ever-expanding universe for both Marvel and the Potter fandom.
The scandal continued with many members resigning in protest, leaving the Academy in crisis due to its own rules. It looked as though the entire Nobel Prize Academy might have been disbanded forever but it was ultimately saved, although 2018 will be the first year in 69 years that the awards have not been given.
Tim Waterstone, founder of the eponymous book shop chain has been recognised with a knighthood for services to bookselling and charity. Author Kazuo Ishiguro has also received a knighthood for services to literature.
500 Words 2018 has set another record for entries: this year saw over 135,000 people enter with their stories. The stories were read by a team of 5000 volunteers- librarians and teachers from around the UK- before being pared down to the Top 50 by The Reading Agency. The panel of judges, Charlie Higson, Francesca Simon, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Malorie Blackman and Honorary Judge, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, had the gruelling task then of selecting three winners from two age categories (5-9 years and 10-13 years).
The final was presented by BBC’s Chris Evans, and was an exciting and glamorous day of live music and story-telling. The six winners were announced on BBC Radio 2 by British and Irish funnymen, David Walliams and Dara O’Briain. There was also music from John Newman, Alexandra Burke and Bastille to round off the celebrations.
The 16 original books were read and discussed by the panel of judges- Sarah Sands, Katy Brand, Anita Anand, Catherine Mayer, and Imogen Stubbs- and whittled down to a final fantastic 6. After much deliberation those 6 were discussed and debated until one winner was decided upon.
Congratulations to the winner- Kamila Shamsie with Home Fire.