Category Archives: The Green Carnation Prize

Green Carnation Prize 2013; Winner & Thoughts

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.

GCP Winners

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?

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The Green Carnation Prize Shortlist 2013…

As the press release (which I wrote) states, the shortlist for the Green Carnation Prize has now been announced and “With subjects from the abolition of death in Civil War 1836 to dysfunctional families in modern America; from marital breakdowns to crime and conspiracy over continents; from transvestites in London to tolerance in modern times, it seems that this year’s Green Carnation Prize shortlist has shown once again just what diverse list of titles the prize can produce.” Which I think I can agree with even though, as yet I haven’t read all the short list (I am still working on the longlist, and the blinking ‘Luminaries’ when I can) but I will be reading them all. The six titles are…

Doesn’t my lounge look lovely in this shot?

  • Gob’s Grief – Chris Adrian (Granta Books)
  • Black Bread White Beer – Niven Govinden (The Friday Project)
  • May We Be Forgiven – A. M. Homes (Granta)
  • The Kills – Richard House (Picador)
  • Fanny & Stella – Neil McKenna (Faber and Faber)
  • Far From The Tree – Andrew Solomon (Chatto & Windus)

Congratulations to all of them, I did rather large cheers for Neil McKenna (review coming soon) and Niven Govinden (review here) and am really interested in reading the three that I still haven’t read. Yes, I know I am missing one but will be talking about it in due course as it’s a book that is so good it actually started to annoy me. You see this year it has been really interesting for me as I haven’t judged the books or read all the submitted novels  so I can be rather impartial, which is quite exciting. I get to watch the judges judging and clap or tear out my hair with their decisions; mind you I have done that in past years when I was part of the panel.

You see I trust the judges and their discussions and have been chatting with them about the list since they informed me of it last week (aren’t I good at keeping secrets) and so when I did an initial ‘oh no’ for both ‘Maggie and Me’ by Damian Barr (which I loved and beyond) and ‘Almost English’ by Charlotte Mendelson (which recently charmed the reading glasses off me), instead of getting cross (which nearly happened) I just had to think ‘wow this must be a bloody brilliant shortlist’ which of course makes me very excited about the reading I have ahead of me. Though I will also admit the size (and font size too) of ‘Far From The Tree’ scares me somewhat. I am looking forward to the surprise of finding out the winner in two weeks.

It is interesting though as after the initial ‘who is and who isn’t on the list’ discussion dies down the same question rears its head. ‘Why do we need a prize like this?’ It is one I will be answering in the Guardian tomorrow but until then I would be interested in hearing both what you think of the Green Carnation Prize shortlist this year and do you think we need a prize that celebrates LGBT writing?

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The Green Carnation Prize 2013 Longlist

Some of you will have already probably heard the news that the Green Carnation Prize 2013 longlist, which celebrates LGBT writing, was announced earlier today. For the first year in the prizes four years I’ve actually not done been on the judging panel or indeed been involved in the judging process/discussions (I have been doing all the admin behind the scenes) so it has all been rather weird and also extremely exciting as I have been desperate to know what the longlist would be. Well, here it is…

  • Gob’s Grief – Chris Adrian (Granta Books)
  • Five Star Billionaire – Tash Aw (4th Estate)
  • Maggie & Me – Damian Barr (Bloomsbury)
  • Environmental Studies – Maureen Duffy (Enitharmon)
  • Fallen Land – Patrick Flanery (Atlantic Books)
  • Black Bread White Beer – Niven Govinden (The Friday Project)
  • The Sea Inside – Philip Hoare (4th Estate)
  • May We Be Forgiven – A. M. Homes (Granta)
  • The Kills – Richard House (Picador)
  • Fanny & Stella – Neil McKenna (Faber and Faber)
  • Almost English – Charlotte Mendelson (Mantle Books)
  • Far From The Tree – Andrew Solomon (Chatto & Windus)

What an eclectic mix! I have only read two and a half of these so far (loved the Barr, need to review the brilliant Govinden – though I have interviewed him – and am now reading the Homes, by coincidence. for book club this week) and so I have decided that I will try, when the mood takes, to read them before the shortlist is announced on November the 5th. You can find out about the longlisted titles in more detail here.

What do you think of the list? Which of these have you read and what did you make of them?

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The Winners of the Green Carnation Prize 2012 are…

Well it is a bit of a shocker as for the first time in the prizes history the judges announce two winners in a tie as Patrick Gale and André Carl Van Der Merwe become joint winners of The Green Carnation Prize 2012. And what a pair of winners they are…

Patrick Gale’s ‘A Perfectly Good Man’ is his sixteenth novel, a story of the moral dilemmas of a Cornish priest and his family and looks at what makes people good or bad. André Carl Van Der Merwe’s debut novel ‘Moffie’ is a tale of coming out in South Africa in the military during some of the country’s most turbulent times.

9780007465088 9781609450502

As you can imagine after all the reading that has lead up to this and all the discussion (which we had to extend the announcement of the winner/s by several days in order to come to a final agreement) I am rather shattered and booked out, though fear not it won’t last long. If you want to see all the official thoughts from the judges, including my thoughts on the whole shortlist, then you can go to the Green Carnation website here. I will be reviewing the winners, the short listed and long listed (well the ones I haven’t already) books in the new year, I can tell you though that they are all corking and it has been the hardest whittling down process I have ever encountered in three years. It might be just the high point for me to hang my judging boots up for a while.

Have you read either of the two winners and if so what did you think? If you haven’t yet, might you give them a whirl now?

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The Green Carnation Prize Shortlist 2012

I am thrilled to be able to announce the Green Carnation Prize shortlist for 2012. After a whole weekend, yes weekend, of debating and discussing the long list the six shortlisted titles we have chosen are…

The Green Carnation Shortlist 2012

  • Carry The One – Carol Anshaw (Penguin Books, American, 4th novel)
  • A Perfectly Good Man – Patrick Gale (4th Estate, British, 16th novel)
  • Scenes from Early Life – Philip Hensher (4th Estate, British, 8th novel)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Before He Stole Me Ma – Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus, British, debut novel)
  • Moffie – Andre Carl Van Der Merwe (Europa Editions, South African, debut novel)
  • Jack Holmes and his Friend – Edmund White (Bloomsbury, American, 10th novel)

I think I am allowed to say (though who is really going to tell me off) that in the three years I have judged the prize this was the hardest longlist to shortlist selection we have had to make. That is how good the longlist was. I know that judges of prizes say that all the time and it is a bit of a cliché but in this case it is genuinely true. All the judges individually had to say goodbye to some of their favourite reads of the year (none more so than me – martyr much) and while we are thrilled with the shortlist we were sorry to see seven of the titles go and we have a proper mission ahead deciding the winner. If you are hankering for some great reads though do check out the short and long listed titles. Actually the good thing is I can talk about the books that I loved which didn’t make the shortlist now, can’t I?

The winner will be announced on the 12th fo December 2012. For more info visit the Green Carnation website. Which of these titles have you read and what did you think? Might you be tempted to try any of the shortlisted titles you haven’t read?

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The Green Carnation Prize Longlist 2012

One of the joys of blogging was meeting lots of new people and getting very excited about books. Three years ago along with Paul Magrs, Nick Campbell and joined by Lesley Cookman I started on an exciting new venture co-founding a prize for LGBT literature of all kinds which eventually, after a small glitch with the initial name, was called The Green Carnation Prize. Well just over three years later the prize has changed a little bit yet the current team of judges, and one is an old ropey judge who refuses to leave, has brought you a very exciting longlist of thirteen books which are…

  • Carry The One – Carol Anshaw (Penguin)
  • Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel (Jonathan Cape)
  • Ninety Days – Bill Clegg (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Purple Shroud – Stella Duffy (Virago)
  • Absolution – Patrick Flanery (Atlantic Books)
  • A Perfectly Good Man – Patrick Gale (4th Estate)
  • Scenes From An Early Life – Philip Hensher (4th Estate)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Before He Stole Me Ma – Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus)
  • Snake Ropes – Jess Richards (Sceptre)
  • Hawthorn & Child – Keith Ridgway (Granta Books)
  • Valentine Grey – Sandi Toksvig (Virago)
  • Moffie – Andre Carl Van Der Merwe (Europa Editions)
  • Jack Holmes and his Friend – Edmund White (Bloomsbury)

It is nice to be able to share at least the titles of some of the books that I have been secretly reading away over the past few months. Alas, I can’t tell you exactly what I thought of these thirteen because there is the short listing and the winning announcement to go, but it might be time to start telling you about some of the amazing books that didn’t make the longlist this year… because that is how good the submitted books were this year.

Always keen to get in on the act, a certain Oscar cat is now casting his eyes over the selected few and will be accompanying me in some re-reading. However I think I might have a week of reading just what I fancy first.

So what do you think of the list? Have you read any of them? What do you think might make the shortlist? Are there any you are surprised not to see? Are you going to give any of them a whirl? All thoughts, as always, most welcome.

Full details and thoughts from all the judges, and updates over the next few weeks, on the Green Carnation Prize can be found on the website.

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The Green Carnation Prize 2012

I seem to have gone off radar on Savidge Reads recently, apologies for that but it has all been a little bonkers of late. I have had a poorly other half to contend with and a sudden dash back to A&E when everything got a bit worse suddenly (The Beard is now doing much better), then had a trip to Cardiff (more on that soon), a mass of recordings for The Readers Summer Book Club (more on that later today) and to top it all off I was finalising everything for The Green Carnation Prize which I am delighted to say is back again this year.

I am thrilled it is back, I have had several moments of panic but this year I think, if a little belatedly, it might be back bigger than ever with some very exciting new judges who I am looking forward to working alongside, plus there are some changes coming to it and we have a few extra surprises coming along the way. We are just currently looking at how to make it more interactive and such like so if you have any ideas then let me know.

Anyway, I thought I would pop by briefly and explain my absence and give you an update on one of the bookish projects I am really passionate about. Do pop and visit the website and find out more. Before normal service resumes later today… What have you all been up to over the last weekend/week, any news and the like?

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