The Costa Book Award winners were announced earlier this week. We were thrilled when a review of the winner for First Novel arrived from Diane Colson on the very same day!
The 2013 Novel Award went to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, one of the most talked-about books of the year, and one we posted about, although we did not review it.
The First Novel Award went to The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. In the U.S., it is titled Where the Moon Isn’t. Our review is below. Also, Shelf Awareness did a Maximum Shelf devoted issue on the book in October, which includes an interview with the author.
In case you’re wondering, the Children’s Book Award went to Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell, which doesn’t seem to have been published in this country yet. Past winners have included titles we know, such as Maggot Moon, Blood Red Road, and The Ask and the Answer.
FILER, Nathan. Where the Moon Isn’t. 320p. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781250026989; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781250026996.
Adult/High School–Nineteen-year-old Matt needs to tell his story, but it’s slippery, coming out in loops and knots that continually pull his mind back to a night 10 years earlier. As children, Matt and his brother, Simon, went on a holiday near the sea. One stormy night, the two boys went out together and only Matt returned. An abyss of guilt and loss swallows the details of Simon’s death even as Matt’s disease, the one with the name like a snake, keeps Simon’s voice fresh in his head. Debut novelist Filer draws on his work with psychiatric patients to portray the frightening inner life of a teenager suffering from schizophrenia. He incorporates Matt’s drawings and bits of fractured text, bolstering the power of the teen’s non-linear storytelling. The result is mesmerizing. Matt can write about his present life, his therapists, and his relationship with his grandmother, but gradually all of this disintegrates when his disease takes over. When the outside world fades out, Matt is left with Simon’s voice and his fierce need for atonement. Teens will be fully engaged with Matt’s intelligent narration as he gets closer to the dark core of Simon’s death. Filer’s writing is beautiful and funny, pierced with the truths of schizophrenia: told by a nurse that his medications will help him with the voices, Matt denies that he hears voices, saying, “I don’t hear voices, okay? It’s my brother, for f**k’s sake! How many times do I need to tell you people this?” Little wonder that Filer won the prestigious Costa Award for New Fiction.–Diane Colson, Nashville Public Library, TN