The Sunday Times/ Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer Of The Year Prize
Sunday Times and Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year, in association with the University of Warwick, Winner 2018:
Kings of the Yukon by Adam Weymouth
It’s our pleasure to confirm Adam Weymouth’s debut Kings of the Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey as winner of The Sunday Times and Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year, in association with the University of Warwick.
Following the 2000 mile, epic upstream journey of the king salmon that ploughs its waters, in Kings of the Yukon, Adam Weymouth takes on an epic kayak journey through the majesty of North American wilderness. With his ultimate destination the Bering Sea, Weymouth’s voyage eloquently addresses our profound interdependence with the natural world, and how fragile that relationship is.
Over almost 20 years, the Young Writer of the Year Award has become perhaps our most prescient bellwether of future talent, in 2017 setting Sally Rooney on the road to literary stardom and her future 2018 win of our Waterstones Book of the Year, Normal People.
‘Never pat, always intelligent, full of enthusiasm, and almost entirely free of self-pity.’ So sums the Mail on Sunday’s Craig Brown of Laura Freeman’s deeply compelling memoir of a life dimmed by anorexia, but lit by books. Laurie Lee, Siegfried Sassoon, Elizabeth David and Virginia Woolf are just some of the figures Freeman reveals as personal heroes, their elegies to eating sparking the author’s own journey toward wellness. Frank, thoughtful and written with an inspired love for the written word.
An instant favourite amongst our booksellers, Imogen Hermes Gowar’s wild gothic fantasy spirits the reader to an autumn night in 1785. A strange, marine curio beyond the imagining of merchant Jonah Hancock sweeps him into a topsy-turvy world of collectors, voyeurs, brothels and courtesans, his world ultimately upended by the beautiful and immoral Angelica Neal. ‘The cast of endlessly engaging characters will keep you turning the pages until you get to the wholly satisfying ending,’ found the Sunday Times, ‘The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is superb.’
An atmospheric story of family and community at odds, Fiona Mozley’s 2017 Man Booker-shortlisted debut Elmet pays subtle homage to the writing of Cormac McCarthy and, despite its British setting, revisionist cinematic Westerns such as Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. In an isolated shack in rural Yorkshire, two siblings grow up feral and fearful, their lives poised between nature's beauty and the threat of human violence. Red in tooth and claw, the Economist calls this extraordinary debut ‘a quiet explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable’.
‘I am accustomed to eating,’ writes Adam Weymouth in his absorbing river odyssey Kings of the Yukon, ‘Now, I can be eaten.’ Inspired by the iconic king salmon, whose 2000-mile journey upriver of North America’s Yukon is the stuff of legend, Weymouth undertakes the same challenge by kayak. Across four months, through some of the planet’s most remote and untouched wilderness, the author becomes at one with the landscape, revelling in its beauty, but ever-watchful of its very real perils. ‘The elegiac tone that fills Kings of the Yukon, the sorrow at the loss of culture and nature in the wilderness, is an unavoidable reflection of life in the 21st century.’ - The Guardian