On Tuesday afternoon it was announced that Andrew Solomon’s was the latest winner of the Green Carnation Prize with Far From The Tree, a book about exceptional children and celebrates what it means to be human in all its diversity. Chair of the judges, Uli Lenart, has described it as “A work of extraordinary humanity. Life affirming, insightful and profoundly moving. Andrew Solomon continuously makes you reassess what you think. An opus of diversity, resilience and acceptance; Far From The Tree is a book that has the power to make the World a better place.” I have to admit that I am yet to read it though of course it is now high on my TBR pile – I think I might try and read a chapter at a time between fiction reads.
What has been really lovely is that the author himself said this “I am profoundly honored and utterly thrilled to have won this prize. When I was born, it was a crime, a sin, and a mental illness to be gay; now it is an identity, and a much celebrated one at that, as the very existence of this prize clearly demonstrates. My book is about how we can use that shift, of which gay people today are the fortunate beneficiaries, as a model for helping others with stigmatized differences to find dignity in them. I believe with all my heart in a prize that celebrates the particular contributions of gay literature, and that recognizes that human diversity, like species diversity, is necessary to sustain the world as we know and love it. I am delighted to play any part in putting forward that idea, and I thank the judges with all my heart.”
It is that sort of comment from a writer, which really makes you think, and now many people (myself included) will hopefully go off and read a book that Kerry Hudson says “is the sort of book that makes you grateful to have found it and that remains a gift for a lifetime”. I am up for that, aren’t you? Every year it has been the aim of the prize to highlight brilliant books, some you will have heard of some will be new to you, hopefully you go off and read them. I think the prize has a great track record of that.
Someone asked me the other day if I felt proud of the prize and the part I had played in setting it up. I had never thought about it like that before, yet taking pictures of all the winners together (like the one above) the other day, I thought ‘yes, I am bloody proud’ but I am also as proud as the people who have taken part and supported it be they readers, publishers, all sorts of folk on social media and most importantly the amazing judges this year are what make the prize so worthwhile. And I would like to personally thank Christopher Bryant, Sarah Henshaw, Kerry Hudson, Clayton Littlewood and Uli Lenart – who should get extra thanks as he chaired amazingly and kept me going through the process – as without them there wouldn’t have been a prize this year. Now I have to get thinking about next year…
Anyway, do go off and read them, winners and long and short listers alike ok? And let me know how you get on with them, it is hearing about people reading them that really makes me beam like a loon! I am hoping some of you already have read some of the winners and shortlisted books though?