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Kevin Powers wins Guardian First Book Award for The Yellow Birds

30th November 2012

Kevin Powers' 'triumphant' and 'unforgettable' The Yellow Birds has won the GBP 10,000 Guardian First Book Award.

The book is a fictional account of the psychological impact of serving in the Iraq war, informed by Powers' own experiences of the conflict. It captures the reality of war but is also an exploration of love, courage and human survival.

Powers, who grew up in Virginia and enlisted in the US army at the age of 17, serving in Iraq in 2004, said he was 'honoured' and thanked a judging panel including authors Ahdaf Soueif and Kate Summerscale for choosing his novel above 'such an extraordinary and diverse group of finalists'.

The book beat off competition from four other shortlisted titles: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum, Sandstorm by Lindsey Hilsum and Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson.

The annual Guardian First Book Award, established in 1999, is open to all first-time authors writing in English, or translated into English, across all genres.

Chair of judges Lisa Allardice, editor of the Guardian Review, said: 'The Yellow Birds is a powerful meditation on war and mortality. Its subject matter is ugly and harrowing, but its expression is beautiful and poetic.'

Previous winners of the award include Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer and Alex Ross. Last year's winner was Siddhartha Mukherjee for his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

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