Melissa Harrison wins UK heat of European Union Prize for Literature

News - Prizes Thursday, 23 May 2019

Novel about dangers of nationalism and xenophobia wins UK prize for emerging writers and goes forward for overall EU prize

Melissa Harrison has been announced as the UK winner of the European Union Prize for Literature 2019, for her novel All Among The Barley (Bloomsbury). Set in rural England between the world wars, the novel 'raises questions about the dangers of nationalism, and how easily a love of place can be corrupted into something dark and exclusionary'. It was chosen as Book of the Year by Observer, New Statesman, BBC History magazine and Irish Times.

The EU Prize of Literature involves 36 countries and aims to recognise the best emerging fiction writers across Europe, while celebrating the diversity of current literature and promoting the sharing of books and ideas. The shortlist also included Country by Michael Hughes and A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better by Benjamin Wood.

The judging panel included Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller; Toby Lichtig, fiction and politics editor at the Times Literary Supplement; Sandeep Mahal, director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature; Claire Malcolm, founder and chief executive of New Writing North; and Sheila O'Reilly, chair of the panel and former bookseller.

Harrison said: "In these politically unstable times I'm very proud to represent Britain in the European Union Prize for Literature with a novel that explores the dangerous allure of nativism, nostalgia and xenophobia."

O'Reilly said: "All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison emerged as the winner from an impressively strong shortlist. We are thrilled to be putting Melissa forward as the best emerging author in the UK for the overall prize. Speaking on behalf of the UK jury we got immense joy from reading all the books eligible and were delighted to be part of the EUPL championing British authors to a broader European audience."

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