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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."

Read our exclusive interview with 2012 winner Kevin Powers.

 

2013 shortlist

We Need New Names
Elizabeth Z. Tshele; NoViolet Bulawayo
 
Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn't all bad, though. There's mischief and adventure, games of Find bin...
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Burial Rites
Burial Rites (Hardback)
Hannah Kent
 
'This compelling, ripped-from-real-life tale reminds me of Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace' Karin Slaughter, best-selling author of Kisscut
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Kiss Me First
Kiss Me First (Hardback)
Lottie Moggach
 
Original, haunting and utterly gripping, Kiss Me First is The Talented Mr Ripley for the online age and the literary thriller that everyone will be talking about.
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The Spinning Heart
Donal Ryan
 
In the aftermath of Ireland's financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. This book speaks...
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Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in...
Shereen el Feki
 
From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, this book takes a look at the sexual history of the Arab region, and brings voices to the...
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2013 longlist

The Hive
The Hive (Hardback)
Gill Hornby
 
Welcome to St Ambrose Primary School. A world of friendships, fights and feuding. And that's just the mothers. It's the start of another school year at St Ambrose. But...
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Ten Billion
Ten Billion (Paperback)
Stephen Emmott
 
A book about our failure: failure as individuals, the failure of business, and the failure of our politicians. It is about an unprecedented planetary emergency. It's about the future of...
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The Examined Life: How We Lose and...
Stephen Grosz
 
Distils over 50,000 hours of conversation into pure psychological insight, without the jargon. This book is about one ordinary process: talking, listening and understanding. It includes aphoristic and elegant stories...
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Money: The Unauthorised Biography
Felix Martin
 
What is money, and how does it work? The conventional answer is that people once used sugar in the West Indies, tobacco in Virginia, and dried cod in Newfoundland, and...
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The Shipwrecked House
Claire Trevien
 
Anchors, shipwrecks, whales and islands abound in this first collection by Anglo-Breton poet Claire Trevien. These poems are sketches, lyrics, dreams, and experiments in language as sound. Trevien's is a...
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Previous Winners

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)

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