Debut novel The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley has tonight been crowned Book of the Year at the newly revamped 2016 British Book Industry Awards, beating off stiff competition from both literary heavyweights and commercial blockbusters including major international sensations Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.
This year the Books of the Year, which celebrate books that have been both well-written and brilliantly published, was expanded into four new awards - Children’s, Debut Fiction, Fiction and Non-fiction – with eight shortlisted titles for each, culminating in the overall Book of the Year. The Loney, published by Hodder & Stoughton imprint John Murray, not only won the Debut Fiction Book of the Year award, but also beat all other category winners.
The Loney is a true British success story. A debut novel suspended between literary gothic and supernatural horror, it was written by an unknown author in his 40s, who worked part-time for ten years to be able to write. First published as a limited edition of 300 copies by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher in Yorkshire, it was then picked up by John Murray after reading one review and couple of tweets. Backed by a campaign that created genuine buzz and word-of-mouth, it quickly became the hot literary novel, with almost 100 times its original print run.
This triumph of individual publishing decisions and the individual voice is a running theme across all of the 2016 Books of the Year award winners. Winning Children’s Book of the Year for witty middle grade debut My Brother is a Superhero, author David Solomons and rising star independent publisher Nosy Crow, triumphed over some of the biggest names in children’s publishing JK Rowling, Judith Kerr, David Walliams and Terry Pratchett.
While the unlikely hit Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting and Robert Ferguson - a beautifully produced, practical guide to wood-chopping and which demonstrated great publisher faith and vision from respected Hachette imprint Maclehose Press - has won Non-Fiction Book of the Year; winning out over youtube sensation Joe Wicks, cookery writer Ella Woodward and Bill Bryson.
Also announced at tonight’s award ceremony was Fiction Book of the Year, the genre-defying, modern masterpiece A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Expertly published on a small budget by Picador, it beat major international bestselling authors EL James, Jo Jo Moyes and Paula Hawkins to scoop the hotly contested prize.
Emerging from prestigious literary imprints and independents, the 2016 Book of the Year winners are a triumph of the power of imprint sensibility and traditional publishing values, showing great commitment to publishing authors well. The Loney, a novel which rose from complete obscurity to become one of the most talked about books of the year, reflects these values – to discover new and original talent and to reach as many readers as possible.
Produced by leading industry magazine The Bookseller, the British Book Industry Awards represent a high point in the book trade’s calendar, with winners including Publisher of the Year, Book Retailer of the Year, and Independent Bookshop of the Year. The Books of the Year awards recognise the publishing as well as the books, with both author and publisher as recipients of the prize.
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