Thursday, November 19, 2009
Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book wins the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009
Neil Gaiman, commonly known as the ‘rock star’ of the literary world, is revealed as the winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009.
His book The Graveyard Book saw off competition from five other authors including Patrick Ness who was nominated for a second year. Ness won the prize last year with The Knife of Never Letting Go.
The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens, a child abandoned in a graveyard after the vicious murder of his parents and sister by The Man Jack. Raised and educated by the ghosts that live there, Bod encounters terrible and unexpected menaces in the horror of the pit of the Sleer and the city of Ghouls. It is in the land of the living that the real danger lies as The Man Jack is determined to find Bod and finish him off.
Neil Gaiman is listed as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. He is the creator of the iconic DC comic series The Sandman, the only comic to ever make the New York Times Bestseller list.
His books have been adapted for a number of successful films, most recently the animated adventure Coraline. His screenplay Beowulf starred Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone, and his book Stardust was adapted for a film starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.
In his acceptance speech, Neil paid credit to the authors that had inspired him:
‘Sometimes when we look big, and seem to see further, it's because we are standing on the shoulders of giants. The field of children’s literature has seen many giants, and those of us who toil in the field make our contributions using what we've learned from those who came first. ‘I'm proud of The Graveyard Book. But I know I got to stand on the shoulders of giants in order to write it. There were two writers of children's fiction who influenced The Graveyard Book. Foremost, obviously, Rudyard Kipling, and his short story collection The Jungle Book; less obviously Pamela "P.L" Travers, and her Mary Poppins stories. And everyone else: the writers I learned from as a young reader, and the writers I've learned from as a writer: a host of other craftsmen and women I learned, or borrowed, or stole from, to build The Graveyard Book. ‘
Neil was awarded a cheque for £2,500 and a trophy at a ceremony in London at lunchtime today (Wednesday 18 November).
Judi James, Chair of Judges commented:
"The six shortlisted books for the Booktrust Teenage Prize Award 2009, were chosen by the judges, for their exceptional quality of writing and storytelling, ranging from Helen Grant’s superb first novel, to the highly acclaimed Neil Gaiman whose novel, The Graveyard Book was unanimously chosen the winner. ‘Nobody Owens’, won the hearts of all the judges, young and old as did the delightfully sinister, generous, eccentric and heart-warming characters that inhabit the old graveyard. Gaiman’s writing is gentle, fluid and humorous, and fundamentally uplifting.”
This year’s shortlist was:
Auslander by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)
Ostrich Boy by Keith Gray (Definitions)
The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (Puffin)
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Walker)
The Booktrust Teenage Prize was launched in 2003 to recognise and celebrate the best contemporary writing for teenagers. Booktrust administers the prize with the support of writers, publishers, teachers, parents and libraries. Publishers may enter works of fiction, including novels, collections of short stories and graphic novels, and non-fiction. The Reading Agency is promoting the Booktrust Teenage Prize in libraries across the UK primarily through coordination with public and school library services.
Previous winners include Mark Haddon for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) and Anthony McGowan for Henry Tumour (2006).
Bookman Beattie reckons this is great news for the organisers of the 2010 NZ Post Writers & Readers Week in Wellington (part of the NZ International Festival of the Arts) where Neil Gaiman will be one of the star attractions.