Article published on November 3, 2017.
Wavertonians Know a Good Book When They Read it!
Harry Parker, this year’s winner of the Waverton Good Read Award (WGRA) and author of Anatomy of a Soldier, collected his prize of £1000 at a capacity dinner held at Eaton Golf Club, Waverton, on Friday, 20th October. It was presented to him by John Donoghue, last year’s winner, who praised Harry for his capacity to touch the reader with simple three-word sentences.
Harry lost his legs to an IED in Afghanistan. This life-changing experience inspired him to write a novel about a similar soldier. What makes the book so original is that each chapter is told from the point of view of a different object associated with the attack and the soldier’s recovery. It is a remarkable story.
Harry Parker (right) receiving an engraved goblet and cheque from John Donoghue, last year’s WGRA winner.
The WGRA’s own story is remarkable too. For the last 14 years, readers from Waverton, Chester, have been giving an annual prize to their favourite British/Irish debut novelists and, in the process, have demonstrated that they are often ahead of the wider literary world in terms of recognising new talent.
Here are just a few examples:
- The WGRA team invited Sunjeev Sahota to speak to the group in 2010, five years before he was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
- Nathan Filer came to talk just before he won the Costa Book of the Year Award in 2013.
- Carys Bray was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards shortly after coming to Waverton.
- The Waverton Good Read Award prize in 2005 was awarded to an unknown, Jonathan Trigell, long before his novel, Boy A, was picked up by the BBC and made into a film.
- Films were also made of two other WGRA winners – Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday.
- Yet another winner, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka, has been made into a play.
Over the years, publishers have submitted 999 titles and 50 authors have come to speak to readers. Some 150-200 readers are directly involved each year and others around the country visit the WGRA website – www.wavertongoodread.org.uk – for ideas on what to read next. The WGRA has supplied books to the housebound, to a women’s prison, to schools and to a hamlet without library facilities. The group welcomes sixth formers studying English to its meetings, giving them access to writers of contemporary fiction.
The WGRA children’s award is flourishing too, with year 5 and 6 pupils from two local primary schools reading and reviewing first novels for their age group and choosing a winner.
If you would like to know more about the WGRA, please contact Gwen Goodhew at firstname.lastname@example.org or Wendy Smedley at email@example.com. Sue Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org organises the children’s award.
Squadron: The Navy Officers Who Fought to Abolish the East African Slave Trade by John Broich
Victorious Century: The United Kingdom, 1800–1906 by David Cannadine
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