Waterstones Book of the Year 2017 Winner: La Belle Sauvage: Book of Dust Volume One
After nomination by our booksellers and a final round of judging led by our Managing Director James Daunt, we can proudly reveal Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One (now available in paperback) as our Waterstones Book of the Year 2017. A breathtaking, river-borne adventure, La Belle Sauvage is also a gateway to a vast and dangerous universe, a place where dark systems of power align with magic, science and myth. It’s a book that celebrates the true power of storytelling and the potential of reading to both fashion new worlds and illuminate our own.
Set in the world so masterfully established by Philip Pullman in his trilogy His Dark Materials, La Belle Sauvage is a story of survival, where two children, with everything at stake, find themselves pursued by a terrifying evil. In their care is a tiny child, and in that child lies the fate of the future.
To celebrate Philip Pullman’s win, we present a very special edition of La Belle Sauvage. The volume arrives in an exclusive cloth jacket, enhanced by gold foil and embossed finishes, a gold ribbon marker and gold endpapers with London and Oxford skylines.
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What our Booksellers are saying
As every year, our 2017 shortlist is drawn from nominations from our booksellers, with the winner selected by a panel headed up by Waterstones’ Managing Director, James Daunt. Waterstones booksellers around the country have been swept away by La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One and, from the moment it arrived in shops, it has quickly become a firm favourite with avowed Pullman fans and new converts alike. Here is what some of our booksellers have to say about their chosen winner.
The 2017 Shortlist
A global phenomenon, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s project to seek out and celebrate exceptional female role models struck an instant, powerful chord. Few books have had such immediate success in opening up a dialogue between boys and girls of all ages, combining striking portrait illustration with life stories of genuine inspiration and achievement.
A grieving president hurtles headlong into the afterlife, to save the soul of his dead child. In Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders seizes this singular concept and delivers a pyrotechnic, Man Booker Prize-winning performance that manages to be both beguiling and humane. The story of Lincoln’s grief, at the time when the nation he led was in such peril, achieves in Saunders’ hands an almost mythic status.
Despite unprecedented anticipation, Philip Pullman’s ‘equal’ to his masterwork trilogy His Dark Materials is more than up to the measure of its predecessor. Confidently picking up on events a decade prior to Northern Lights, La Belle Sauvage once again raises the bar for children’s fiction, unafraid to duck the disturbing or pose the unasked. For both existing fans - and those venturing into Lyra and Malcolm’s universe for the first time - there is an incredible adventure waiting.
A volume as beautifully produced as it is written, Jenny Uglow’s sensitive exploration of English literature’s most enigmatic figure is an engrossing delight. Knowingly framed against Edward Lear’s limericks, Uglow expertly peels back the layers of his sometimes contradictory talent and character. Mr Lear is an outstandingly elegant and perceptive account of a complex, wounded man, and for us the biography of the year.
Capitalism explained as never before: distilled as a conversation between the charismatic economist Yanis Varoufakis and his daughter Xenia, deceptively simple questions reveal an ocean of hidden global dynamics, underlining why economics is the only game in town. A true rockstar in his field, Varoufakis uses personal stories and famous myths to explain what economics is and why it has the power to change our world. Enormous, illuminating fun.
Frances Hardinge is the only other children’s author - aside from Philip Pullman – to clinch a Costa Book of the Year. Stepping aside from the Victorian mores of her Prize-winning The Lie Tree, here Hardinge considers intrigue set against the English civil war, featuring the wilful and resourceful Makepeace – a girl who bears a strange, supernatural gift. A book from a storyteller at the height of her powers, and a gloriously inventive tale that feels destined to be a classic.
The Lost Words is a vital compendium of language slipping from the grasp of young people – bluebell, lark, newt, kingfisher – presented as a series of acrostic spells that engage both mind and eye. The work of artist Jackie Morris and acclaimed writer Robert Macfarlane (the author of The Old Ways and Landmarks), this is a glorious celebration of the natural world to be both loved and heeded.