Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hooray for A.L. Kennedy . . .

. . . who wins this year's Costa Prize (formerly the Whitbread) for her novel Day. This is one of the season's most interesting awards because the judges first choose a winner in five categories - best novel, biography, first novel, poetry and children's book. The winners then battle each other for the big prize. A.L. Kennedy ranks right up there with my list of favourite contemporary writers and she is also an astonishingly good reader; if she's ever doing a book event in your town, drop everything and go and see her. Failing that, check out her work. Day is about a WWII gunner who relives his war experiences when, five years later he works as an film extra, playing a POW. Paradise is an extraordinary novel that takes you viscerally into the mind of an alchoholic woman and despite its dark subject has moments of incredible humour. My favourite novel of hers though, is Everything You Need which honestly, was unlike anything I've ever read before or since. It's the story of a group of odd and almost macabre writers living on a bleak island retreat. The main character Nathan becomes a mentor to Mary, a new writer who does not know that Nathan is in fact her father. There are unforgettable scenes in this book of pure brilliance. Truly a masterpiece.
Kennedy's win has totally made my day!

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