Very pleased to see a book I thoroughly enjoyed and gave a glowing review to winning a major prize: Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi has become the first science title to take the Guardian First Book Award. The prize is worth £10, 000 and is likely to lead to a big increase in sales for a book which has been out for some months now, especially since Waterstone’s are rushing out large scale-outs of the book to their stores across the UK (the judging panel also included input from some Waterstone’s reader’s groups – now wouldn’t that be a nice thing for our wee SF Book Group to be involved in for SF awards like the Arthur C Clarke?). I blogged on the book back in the summer (seems so long ago now we are in the Bleak Midwinter), so I won’t go on at length here – if you are interested my review is posted on the mighty Alien here.
It is interesting to note that the Guardian Prize has often bucked the trend of most major literary prizes in that it considers many types of book and not just the normal ‘high literature’. The astonishingly good debut novel of high magical fantasy that I have raved about recently, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was also in contention (an excellent review here by my esteemed colleague Andy Sawyer, a librarian but not an orangutan (although in his hearts perhaps he is)). Chris Ware’s fabulous Jimmy Corrigan graphic novel won the prize in 2001, which set the literary tongues wagging – imagine, a graphic novel winning a literary prize!!! Gosh! Cue an increase in graphic novels sales and a huge increase in coverage in the (non SF) media waking up to what the rest of us knew for many years: graphic novels are often the repositry of very adult themes and remarkable story-telling. Dan Clowes and Joe Sacco were soon being discussed in the broadsheets. Naturally, those of us who know these things already had been selling large quantities of these books already, in effect running in front of the emerging bandwagon.