British Book Awards 2017 Winner: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Another victory for Sarah Perry and The Essex Serpent as the unanimous choice from our booksellers for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016 is now the proud owner of the British Book Awards Overall Book of the Year 2017.
The Essex Serpent is Perry’s second novel and it “emerged from the dark to become one of the smash hits of 2016”, according to the judges. Sam Baker, judge and co-founder of The Pool, praised its “intriguing title, compelling storytelling, covetable packaging and an inspired slow-burn publicity campaign”.
About the Awards
The British Book Awards, or Nibbies, produced by leading industry magazine The Bookseller, honour the commercial successes of books, publishers, authors and bookshops. The seven Books of the Year Awards - handed out alongside accolades including Publisher of the Year and Book Retailer of the Year - celebrate the whole journey from the author’s mind to the reader’s hand.
The Overall Book of the Year is chosen from the winners of the seven categories - Fiction, Debut, Non-Fiction: Narrative, Non-Fiction: Lifestyle, Children’s and Crime & Thriller. The British Book Awards were launched in 1990 and ran for 19 years, before being relaunched by The Bookseller, which ran a Books of the Year strand in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The Category Winners 2017
Fiction Book of the Year - Winner
Now and again, books fall across our path that for even us as booksellers suddenly underline the sheer brilliance of just what a novel can achieve. The Essex Serpent is just such a book, effortlessly skipping between genres and written with astonishingly acute clarity. Reading copies suddenly became as gold dust between staff, the surest sign that Sarah Perry’s second novel was indeed something rather special.
Set in 1893 and firmly rooted in the author’s home county of Essex, the novel centres on the character of Cora Seaborne, a widow freed from a controlling, unhappy marriage. Retreating to the Essex countryside with her son, she hears the rumours surrounding the so-called ‘Essex Serpent’, a creature of folklore being blamed for a spate of deaths and disturbances and the cause of escalating panic in the local community. Her ensuing investigations bring her into contact with a clergyman, William Ransome, a man convinced of finding the answer to local hysteria in faith, just as Cora is on finding it in science. Despite their differing opinions, their lives become ever-more enmeshed, finding themselves bound to each other in ways neither could anticipate.
Fiction Book of the Year - The Shortlist
Debut Book of the Year - Winner
On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia's National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, their relationship growing increasingly intimate and unnerving.
As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he's forced to grapple with his own fraught history: his formative experiences of love, his painful rejection by family and friends, and the difficulty of growing up as a gay man in southern America in the 1990s. Startlingly erotic and immensely powerful, What Belongs to You tells an unforgettable story about the ways our pasts and cultures, our scars and shames can shape who we are and determine how we love.
Debut Book of the Year - Shortlist
Crime and Thriller Book of the Year - Winner
When East, a low-level lookout for a Los Angeles drug organisation, loses his watch house in a police raid, his boss recruits him for a very different job: a road trip - straight down the middle of white, rural America - to assassinate a judge in Wisconsin. Having no choice, East and a crew of untested boys - including his trigger-happy younger brother, Ty - leave the only home they've ever known in a nondescript blue van, with a roll of cash, a map and a gun they shouldn't have.
Along the way, the country surprises East. The blood on his hands isn't the blood he expects. And he reaches places where only he can decide which way to go - or which person to become. By way of The Wire and in the spirit of Scott Smith's A Simple Plan and Richard Price's Clockers, Dodgers is itself something entirely original: a gripping literary crime novel with a compact cast whose intimate story opens up to become a reflection on the nature of belonging and reinvention.
Crime and Thriller Book of the Year - Shortlist
Non-Fiction Narrative Book of the Year - Winner
An invitation to deliver a lecture in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv sets international human rights lawyer Philippe Sands on a profound quest that will both unearth the origins of international law and fill the terrible gaps in his own family’s decimated history. In the process, he both wrestles with the outcome of the laws created at the time and delineates the death machine built to destroy an entire people.
Sands exhumes layer after layer of hidden detail, revealing the extraordinary story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who ultimately realise the man they are prosecuting may have been responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv.
Non-Fiction Narrative Book of the Year - Shortlist
Non-Fiction Lifestyle Book of the Year - Winner
What is it really like to look at our world from the outside?
Hello, is this planet Earth? takes readers on a mesmerising tour of Tim's historic and inspirational six-month Principia mission. Based on over 150 of Tim's stunning photographs that he took on board the International Space Station, many of which have not been seen before, this lavish collection showcases the beauty of Earth from above, and is the perfect visual time capsule of Tim's remarkable trip, which captured the imaginations of millions of children and adults across the world.
Non-Fiction Lifestyle Book of the Year - Shortlist
Children's Book of the Year - Winner
Isabella Riosse is the daughter of a cartographer who lives on the island of Joya; an isle both steeped in mythology and shrouded in mystery. For the last thirty years, a strict Governor has forbidden the island inhabitants from venturing beyond their small township.
Isabella is fascinated with the ancient myths of Joya, which is said to have once floated freely over the seas. Preoccupied with ideas of exploration and inspired by the far-flung places her father once documented, she yearns for adventure.
When her best friend Lupe runs away, disappearing into the forbidden forest, Isabella volunteers to bring her back. With only her knowledge of ancient myths and one of her father’s maps to guide her, Isabella ventures into the perilous world beyond, where monsters lurk and magical rivers run.
Children's Book of the Year - Shortlist
Previous Book of the Year Winners
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