The Costa Book Awards has a category dedicated to new novels. It features four books from a quartet of burgeoning writers whose debut texts set them out as authors to watch in the future.
So, who would I back to win this prize? Hmmm…
1. The Good Guy by Susan Beale
This was the winner in this category, in my opinion.
The Good Guy is a tale about marriage, ambition, identity and courage, all wrapped up in a bubble of 1960s glamour. It’s a subject matter that’s been explored many times but Susan Beale brings a new perspective her narrative that is both engaging and challenging.
The characters are strong (especially the women) and the conclusion is satisfying. Beale is a skilled storyteller and I’m looking forward to whatever she does next.
2. My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal
It was tough to put this in second place but The Good Guy just edged it off the top spot.
My Name is Leon is a beautiful story about a young boy trying to find his way in the world. De Waal cleverly writes in a child’s voice to subtly unravel the complexities of the circumstances through the naivety of her narrator and protagonist.
This book is gentle and harrowing, something that will warm your heart after it’s wrenched it a few times. It’s an excellent introduction to De Waal’s talents and I can’t wait to read what she publishes next.
3. The Words in my Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd
This book started well but didn’t sustain its promise for the entire novel.
Glasfurd’s writing is elegant, and she’s excellent at creating complete worlds filled with almost tangible detail about place, costume and character. However, the plot lacked pace and faltered in the second half when it fell into melodrama.
Glasfurd is still a writer to watch, however, and I think tighter editing of her delicate narrative would have lifted this book higher in my reviews.
4. Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish this book before I head off to Paris tomorrow.
It’s probably unfair, therefore, to rank it in fourth place. However, I’ve read about 100 pages so far and am not enjoying the book so I honestly don’t think it would have climbed any higher if I had finished.
If you want to know more about this book, check out this review in The Guardian.
So, these are a pretty eclectic range of debut novels from some very exciting new writers. I’d be happy for either The Good Guy or My Name is Leon to take the prize, and expect to see great things from both authors in the future.