Article published on September 8, 2016.
It’s amazing how, if you keep pegging away at something, you reach a point where you can look back and be pleasantly surprised at how far you’ve come. And so it proves with our annual vote for the nb and nudge Book of the Year. nb1 was published in Nov 2000 and only two years later – with a fair measure of hutzpah – I decided nb should speak for readers like you and I.
The Booker Prize began back in 1969, so literary prizes were hardly a revolutionary concept. And of course the Man Booker continues to typify the views of what the literary world thinks we should be reading. The trouble was, between 2000 and 2002 it had become blindingly obvious that those of us in reading groups had very different views on what we found edifying.
Given that nb claimed to be the magazine for readers and reading groups it seemed incumbent on us to reflect the actualité and so we ventured out like kids in a sweet shop to gather up all manner of delightful books, books that had enchanted, scared or worried us. Books that lifted the soul or made us comprehend and empathise. In other words, damn good reads. We were lightly castigated in the trade press for not having any grand rules other than – back then – to nominate the best book in English that you had read that year, regardless of when it had been published.
In nb90, Phil Ramage declares Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada to be his book of 2015, apologising for not discovering it before – which encapsulates the very spirit of nb and nudge: to discover books to seek out rather than books to avoid.
So, while not much has fundamentally changed in the concept of literary prizes, I’d like to think that we are still something of a maverick in the field. It is true that, for practicalities’ sake, we now present a shortlist so there is an element of pre-selection rather than the mile wide list of titles in prior years. We also use social media to canvas and collect votes from the eclectic selection of books on the forthcoming shortlist (to be announced in the December nudge Update and published on nudge the same day).
One innovation last year that was well received was the search for the nudge Community Books of the Year – so the BookHugger book of the year, the BookNoir book of the year and so on. Never one to to pass up a good idea we’re going to run that again this year.
So, in all of this I hope you can see some books you, too, have loved and, among them, some unknowns to add to your TBR pile.
And if you need any reassurance on the pedigree of the nudge/nb prize then take a look at the list of previous winners below. Surely a bookshelf to be proud of?
2016– The Bees by Laline Paull
2015 – The Humans by Matt Haig
2014 – Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
2013 – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
2012 – Room by Emma Donoghue
2011 – The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2010 – The Return by Victoria Hislop
2008 – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
2007 – Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
2006 – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
2005 – My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
2004 – The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick
2003 – Altered Land by Jules Hardy
2002 – The Seige by Helen Dunmore
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