The Guardian First Book Award
The Guardian newspaper's literary award was set up in 1965 with a prize of 200 guineas and began simply as the Guardian Fiction Award. In 1999, it was relaunched as the Guardian First Book Award in order to reward new talent in both fiction and non-fiction. The winner currently receives £10,000, plus a guarantee of advertising space in The Guardian and The Observer.
Books are nominated by reviewers for The Guardian and the longlist, announced in late autumn, features the ten most popular titles. These ten are then discussed by a series of reading groups made up of members of the general public, and reduced to a shortlist of five.
Winners in the first incarnation of the award include Eva Figes, Beryl Bainbridge, John Banville, Peter Ackroyd, Graham Swift, J G Ballard, Pat Barker and Jackie Kay. No writer has won more than once. Four winners have won other major awards for the same book: John Berger's G also won the Booker Prize, Jim Crace also took the Whitbread First Novel Award with Continent, Alasdair Gray's Poor Things went on to win the Whitbread Novel Award and Anne Michaels' Fugitive Pieces won the second ever Orange Prize.
Since the switch to the new format, winners have been evenly split between fiction and non-fiction. The prize has avoided much in the way of controversy, although some critics were doubtful about 2001's winner, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy in the World, which was the first graphic novel to win a major British literary award; it has since gone on to be considered a masterpiece of the form. In 2010, the decision to levy entry fees of £150 per book came under criticism by those who felt that it would deter small publishers, especially those of more specialist books such as poetry, from entering.
On 28th November, the 2013 prize was awarded to The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan.
Chair of judges, Guardian's reviews editor Lisa Allardice said, "It may be slim in size, but it is hugely ambitious in structure and devastating in its emotional impact... Too often contemporary fiction is criticised for not engaging enough with contemporary issues, but this breathtakingly empathetic account of a community crumbling under the pressures of the recession deserves to stand as a companion piece to Anne Enright's wonderful The Forgotten Waltz, also set against the boom and bust of recent Irish history."
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Guardian First Book Award:
2012 The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
2011 The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
2010: Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper by Alexandra Harris
2009: An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah
2008: The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century by Alex Ross
2007: Children of the Revolution by Dinaw Mengestu
2006: A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
2005: Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters
2004: Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body by Armand Leroi
2003: Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane
2002: Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
2001: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
2000: White Teeth by Zadie Smith
1999: We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
Guardian First Fiction Award:
1998 Trumpet by Jackie Kay
1997: Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
1996: Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane
1995: Heart’s Journey in Winter by James Buchan (currently out of print)
1994: Debatable Land by Candia McWilliam (currently out of print)
1993: The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker
1992: Poor Things by Alasdair Gray
1991: The Devil’s Own Work by Alan Judd
1990 Shape-Shifter by Pauline Melville (currently out of print)
1989 Rosehill: Portrait from a Midlands City by Carol Lake (currently out of print)
1988 Sweet Desserts by Lucy Ellmann (currently out of print)
1987 The Levels by Peter Benson (currently out of print)
1986 Continent by Jim Crace
1985 Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
1984 Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard
1983: Waterland by Graham Swift
1982: Where I Used to Play on the Green by Glyn Hughes (currently out of print)
1981: Kepler by John Banville
1980: A Month in the Country by J L Carr
1979: The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera
1978: Night in Tunisia by Neil Jordan
1977: The Condition of Muzak by Michael Moorcock (currently out of print)
1976: Falstaff by Robert Nye (currently out of print)
1975: Friends and Romans by Sylvia Clayton (currently out of print)
1974: The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
1973: In the Country of the Skin by Peter Redgrove
1972: G by John Berger
1971: The Big Chapel by Thomas Kilroy
1970: When Did You Last See Your Father? by Margaret Blount (currently out of print)
1969: Poor Lazarus by Maurice Leitch (currently out of print)
1968: A Song and a Dance by P J Kavanagh (currently out of print)
1967: Winter Journey by Eva Figes (currently out of print)
1966: The Dear Green Place by Archie Hind
1965: Crumb Borne by Clive Barry (currently out of print)