Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield @JuliaArmfield @YoungWriterYear #YoungWriterAwardShadow @picadorbooks

The Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award:

Founded in 1991, the award recognises the best literary work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer of 35 and under. £5,000 is given to the winner, and £500 to each of the three runners-up. The award was suspended in 2008, but was revitalised in 2015, building on the remarkable legacy of the prize by introducing two significant and exciting innovations: extending its reach by including writers from Ireland and including self-published works as well as those from publishers – putting the prize in tune with the changing landscape of British publishing. In 2019, after two years as associate sponsor, the University of Warwick assumed the title partnership of the prize.

The 2019 winner will be announced at The London Library
on 5 December 2019.

I was honoured to be asked to be on the shadow panel for this year's Young Writer of the Year Award, sponsored by The Sunday Times and the University of Warwick.

Here's my third feature on the short listed books.

Talking about Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

In her brilliantly inventive and haunting debut collection of stories, Julia Armfield explores bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of her characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession, love and revenge.
Teenagers develop ungodly appetites, a city becomes insomniac overnight, and bodies are diligently picked apart to make up better ones. The mundane worlds of schools and sleepy sea-side towns are invaded and transformed, creating a landscape which is constantly shifting to hold on to its inhabitants. Blurring the mythic and the gothic with the everyday, Salt Slow considers characters in motion – turning away, turning back or simply turning into something new entirely.
Winner of The White Review Short Story Prize 2018, Armfield is a writer of sharp, lyrical prose and tilting dark humour – Salt Slow marks the arrival of an ambitious and singular new voice.

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield was published on 30May 2019 by Picador Books.

Nine haunting and original short stories, played out over just under 200 pages. Salt Slow is a collection of breath taking and often surprising stories. Each one is unique, yet hard hitting and powerfully intelligent. If, like me, you don't read a lot of short fiction, you may need to read these more than once each. I did.

It took me some time to absorb these stories. The collection is a complex mix of magical realism and the everyday issues faced by and dealt with by women. The author's women range from the schoolgirl suffering with diseased skin, to the sadness and despair of the woman whose marriage is broken.

This is a beautifully presented book; the cover design is outstanding and truly reflects what is between the pages.
At times difficult to read, and with most collections of stories, some of these pleased me more than others, but on the whole this is an inventive and smart collection of writings from a gifted young author.

Julia Armfield lives and works in London.

She is a fiction writer and occasional playwright with a Masters in Victorian Art and Literature from Royal Holloway University.

Her work has been published in Lighthouse, Analog Magazine, The white Review and Salt's Best British Short Stories 2019.
She was commended in the Moth Short Story Prize 2017, longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Prize 2018 and is the winner of The White Review Short Story Prize 2018

Twitter : @JuliaArmfield

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