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Extract: A poem from Jacob Polley's T.S. Eliot Prize-winning collection Jackself

Jacob Polley’s dark, visceral collection of poetry Jackself was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize on Monday. Semi-autobiographical, the collection tells the story of a young boy, Jack, coming of age in a thorny and surreal Cumbrian landscape reminiscent of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. Judges of the award described the collection as ‘a firework of a book’, and referencing the Carlisle-born poet’s two previous nominations for the award said, ‘[his] mastery of phrase and rhythm and the control of line, combined with the hurts of childhood and his glee in inventive language, have taken his writing to a new level.” Polley was joined on the shortlist by British poets Alice Oswald, Ian Duhig,and Rachel Boast.

The Missing Brontë

Since her 2014 debut The Silversmith’s Wife, Sophia Tobin has been carving out a glorious, somewhat gothic niche in historic fiction, turning now to the wild but desolate beauty of the Yorkshire moors for her latest tale, The Vanishing, a nineteenth century story of menace and isolation as a young London foundling finds herself at the strange mercies of her new master and his widowed sister. Like all fiction featuring this part of the country, the ghosts of the Brontës looms large and for Waterstones Online, Sophia Tobin considers the enigma that was Branwell Brontë, the oft-overlooked brother who only surfaces as a shadow in his sisters’ work.

Exclusive Short Story: The Heart Collector

To celebrate the upcoming release of The Scarecrow Queen, the finale to Melinda Salisbury's rich, sinister and powerful The Sin Eater’s Daughter fantasy trilogy for young adults, Waterstones Online presents an exclusive Sin Eater’s Daughter short story for fans and new readers to enjoy. Salisbury will be attending three Waterstones book events, details of which are at the end of the article.

A Waterstones exclusive: George Saunders frames his viral lecture hit, Congratulations, by the way

George Saunders is a writer’s writer. As a short-story author, he has hoovered up a number of awards, including the O. Henry, the World Fantasy Award, the Folio Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Word of Saunders’ shift to the novel has provoked a rare flurry of anticipation, and the result – a wild flight from fact to fantasy where Abraham Lincoln is forced to fight for his dead son’s soul – has had everyone (from Zadie Smith to Thomas Pynchon) referring to Lincoln in the Bardo as a slice of pure, unadulterated genius.

In 2013, a convocation speech George Saunders gave for Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences was later posted to the website of the New York Times and became an extraordinary viral hit. Congratulations, by the way has later found print as a beautifully produced hardback and in advance of the publication of Saunders’ novel, it’s our pleasure to be able to reproduce that speech here, together with an exclusive foreword and afterword, written for Waterstones Online.

Extract: We Come Apart

The winners of two of the most prestigious children's fiction prizes, Brian Conaghan (winner of the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award) and Sarah Crossan (winner of the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal), have joined forces to create an ambitious and heartbreaking young adult novel, We Come Apart. The book is a modern tale of star-crossed lovers, Nicu and Jess, two teens with troubled homes and hidden secrets. If they are to succeed as a couple, they must navigate complex issues of cultural difference, parental expectation and their own frayed self-image. 

Conaghan won the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award for his dark, powerful story of survival, The Bombs That Brought Us Together,and Crossan was awarded last year's CILIP Carnegie Medal for her astonishing YA novel entirely in verse, One. The following extract is exclusive to Waterstones.

“I was everything a young person should be. Furious. Drunk. In love.” - Joseph Knox discusses Sirens

Joseph Knox’s Sirens is an out-of-the-darkness, nocturnal descent into the hardened criminal landscape of Manchester. Away from the eyes of the press, an M.P.’s daughter has gone missing and disgraced detective Aidan Waits has been hand-picked as the ideal man for the job; what follows is a mesmeric journey into a dread-filled urban noir. Sirens is Joseph Knox’s first novel.

Leap In: A Guide to Taking Your Swimming to the Next Level

Alexandra Heminsley won a legion of fans with her effervescent Running Like a Girl, her manifesto-cum-memoir  for anyone who has looked on with sadness at their running shoes lying discarded in the hall. Now Heminsley weaves the same magic in Leap In, her spellbinding account of challenging our basic fears of the water and rediscovering an almost spiritual new realm. Basic questions around swimming however abound, and in the following extract from the book, the author assembles her top tips toward diving into a new life of fitness and meaningful pleasure.

A Letter from Ali Land, Author of Good Me, Bad Me

It’s no secret that almost every publisher is seeking the next Gone Girl or The Girl on The Traingenerating a fair number of copycat psychological thrillers. Good Me, Bad Me is most probably the book they are looking for, with word-of-mouth already declaring this tale of serial-killing motherhood the debut of 2017. In the following letter penned by author Ali Land – a sometime nurse for Child and Adolescent Mental Health – she covers the motives behind the novel’s genesis.

A Question of Time: The Temporal Art of Julian Barnes

Waterstones Online’s Martha Greengrass considers the legacy of Julian Barnes’ writing and how his most recent novel, our Fiction Book of the Month The Noise of Time, continues to challenge our concepts of time, art and what it is to be human.