Friday Reads: This week’s prize round up

This week marked the start of getting to know the authors on the Impress Prize for New Writers 2016 shortlist. Just in case you missed any, we’ve compiled a list of this week’s authors.

Roy Peachey, author of A Terrible Clarity

Roy has degrees in History, English and Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford, the Open University and SOAS, University of London. He is currently working on a doctorate in contemporary fiction and has given academic talks and papers at a number of different universities. He won the ‘War and Words’ Short Story competition in 2014 and has also written for a number of magazines. He teaches English in a secondary school and A Terrible Clarity is his first novel.

A Terrible Clarity is a historical novel about the meeting of China and the West, a theme that has huge contemporary relevance. The story of a one-eyed Chinese interpreter in World War I, it addresses some of the ways in which China has responded to the West in recent history, ranging from blind imitation to outright rejection. It also challenges Eurocentric understandings of the war with the protagonist being wounded after the Armistice and never having the chance to fight. A Terrible Clarity aims to work at several levels: as a novel about blindness; as a war novel in which there is no fighting; as a post-war novel; as a novel about the meeting of East and West; and as a love story in which a man finds redemption through the son he will never see.

Read an extract from A Terrible Clarity here

Susan McRae, author of Once a Happy Boy

Susan is a Canadian-born British citizen of Ukrainian heritage. She came to this country to study for her DPhil at Oxford. She subsequently worked as academic sociologist and previously published a number of books and articles on households, family life, women’s employment and related topics. Her transition to fiction writing was aided by participation in three literary writing courses (Faber, University of Oxford, and Oxford Literary Festival).

Once a Happy Boy is set in Soviet Ukraine and tells the story of Misha Salenko, an ordinary happy child born in 1920 into politically turbulent, extraordinary times. Survival against the odds – both moral and physical – dominates Misha’s life from childhood. Having narrowly escaped death from starvation when a young boy, he must also endure – and survive – both Stalin’s Terror and World War Two. Ultimately, to save himself, he betrays his only cousin; an act at once regretted and not redeemed for fifty years.

Read an extract from Once a Happy Boy here

David Norman, author of South of Hannah

David Norman is a teacher and musician with graduate degrees from New York University (MA) and Texas State University (MFA). He has  taught literature at the university level for more than ten years. His fiction has appeared in American Literary Review, Image, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He has received a Pushcart Prize nomination and was a finalist in competitions sponsored by Glimmer Train, the Santa Fe Writers Project, and Phoebe Magazine.

Eight-year-old jazz piano prodigy Lily Dowling has a bad habit of disappearing. Her mentor and father-figure Cole Howland keeps his bad habit in a flask in his back pocket. When these two misfits hit the keys, however, the world listens. If only their lives off stage were as simple.

SOUTH OF HANNAH is a literary novel about heartache, jealousy, and jazz. Even with his life crumbling around him—his relationships fail, the family shop is losing business, he’s obsessed with an artist no one understands—Cole Howland clings to his belief in love, loyalty, and the transformative power of music.

Read an extract from South of Hannah here

Hannah Foster, author of Take Flight

Hannah completed a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing major) at The University of Melbourne, which also included a 6-month undergraduate exchange to study at the University of East Anglia. She started her career as a commercial solicitor, but moved to work in the charitable sector in 2013. Now based in East London, Hannah continues to work in philanthropy as well as freelancing as a travel and lifestyle writer. She has written for a number of international and Australian publications both online and in print. Some extracts and examples of her published non-fiction writing can be found at hannahbfoster.com. Take Flight would be her first published novel.

Take Flight is a fast-paced young adult novel narrated in a fresh, engaging style by seventeen-year-old Australian teenager, Blythe. It touches on two of the biggest controversies in the twenty-first century: climate change and immigration. Set fifteen years in the future, it subverts the current status quo, ultimately seeing young Australians forced to get on boats to flee the continent.

Read an extract from Take Flight here

 Alex Lockwood, author of The Chernobyl Privileges

Dr. Alex Lockwood is a writer, educator, and author of The Pig in Thin Air (Lantern Books, 2016), an academic study of the place of the body in animal advocacy. He has worked as a journalist for 20 years, edited a dance music magazine in Ibiza and then the Classic FM and GWR Radio web brands. His short fiction appears in magazines including Zoomorphic, Like the Wind, SWAMP, and others. He is a contributor to The Guardian, Barefoot Vegan magazine and in 2014 he guest-edited Earthlines magazine for its special issue on ‘Men and Nature’. He has finished the second draft of a debut novel, exploring the long-lasting effect of both nuclear devastation and sibling guilt. As an academic he teaches journalism and creative writing, and has published widely on the practices of creative non-fiction. He lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is a Winston Churchill Fellow, and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

The novel examines the psychological drama of surviving trauma and the ways in which guilt circulates through families, explored through the contemporary lens of whether or not the UK will replace its Trident nuclear deterrent. The novel fits into the contemporary fiction genre, using the long-lasting resonant impact of the Chernobyl disaster to foreground questions of human nature. The novel draws deeply on research from Chernobyl and contemporary debates around Trident, and will appeal to readers who enjoy tense, contemporary psychological drama.

Read an extract from The Chernobyl Privileges here

We’ll be back next week with the round up of the second group of prize entrants. Happy Friday Reads!

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