Friday, 15 November 2019

Testament by Kim Sherwood @kimtsherwood @YoungWriterYear #YoungWriterAwardShadow @riverrunbooks

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.

The shadow panel will read and discuss the shortlisted books, we will then pick our winner and see if we agree with the official panel.

The exceptional debuts of multi-award-winning British-Jamaican poet Raymond The White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield, British-Brazilian novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler, and writer and Creative Writing teacher Kim Sherwood have been shortlisted for the 2019 Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award. It is the first year the University of Warwick, home to the acclaimed Warwick Writing Programme, acts as the title sponsor of the prize, following two years as its associate partner.

The judges have chosen the shortlisted titles – two novels, a poetry and a short story collection; written by three women and one man – from a record number of submissions to the prize. Publishers submitted over 100 books this year – prompting The Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate, Chair, to sign up two further judges: the writer, editor and bookseller Nick Rennison and Warwick University’s Gonzalo C. Garcia have joined the award-winning poet and writer Kate Clanchy and the best-selling author Victoria Hislop.

My thoughts on Testament by Kim Sherwood

Of everyone in her complicated family, Eva was closest to her grandfather: a charismatic painter - and a keeper of secrets. So when he dies, she's hit by a greater loss - of the questions he never answered, and the past he never shared.
It's then she finds the letter from the Jewish Museum in Berlin. They have uncovered the testimony he gave after his forced labour service in Hungary, which took him to the death camps and then to England as a refugee. This is how he survived.
But there is a deeper story that Eva will unravel - of how her grandfather learnt to live afterwards. As she confronts the lies that have haunted her family, their identity shifts and her own takes shape. The testament is in her hands.
Kim Sherwood's extraordinary first novel is a powerful statement of intent. Beautifully written, moving and hopeful, it crosses the tidemark where the third generation meets the first, finding a new language to express love, legacy and our place within history.

Testament by Kim Sherwood was published by in July 2018 by riverrun.

Eva's grandfather; a well respected and renowned artist has died. Eva is devastated by his death and not only has to deal with her own grief but that of his friends and admirers from all over the world. It feels as though Joseph Silk belonged to everyone, not just his family.

Joseph left Hungary in 1945 and had a successful life in Britain. He didn't speak about his early life and when Eva comes across documentation linking him to the Jewish Museum in Berlin, she is both intrigued and very surprised. It seems that Joseph completed a 'Testament' detailing the time he spent in a Hungarian Labour Camp. This Testament has been recently discovered by one of the curators of the Museum and he would like to include it in an upcoming exhibition.

Eva travels to Berlin and it is whilst she is there that she discovers the truth that Joseph spent so long hiding from his family, and hiding from it himself.

Also interweaved within the modern-day story, the author cleverly tells Joseph's story in his own words as a teenager. This enables the reader to gain a rounded view of circumstances and the long-term effects these have had on a family.

This is an important and passionate story and the author's writing is beautiful; quite lyrical in places. There were times though that I felt the beauty of the prose took away something of the harshness of the story; almost as though the contrast was just a little too much. However, there is no denying that this such a powerful and accomplished debut. It's a startling and eye-opening read; which took my breath away in parts.

Testament is not only the detailed story of the horrors of wartime atrocities, it is also a detailed and wonderfully perceptive novel of relationships; and especially the relationship between Eva and her father, and grandfather.

Astute and compelling. An excellent debut from an author to watch out for.

Kim Sherwood was born in Camden in 1989 and lives in Bath. 
She studied Creative Writing at UEA and is now Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England. 
Her pieces have appeared in Mslexia, Lighthouse, and Going Down Swinging. 
Kim began researching and writing Testament, her first novel, after her grandfather, the actor George Baker, passed away and her grandmother began to talk about her experiences as a Holocaust Survivor for the first time. 
It won the 2016 Bath Novel Award, was longlisted for the 2019 Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 Author ’s Club Best First Novel Award.

Twitter @kimsherwood

No comments:

Post a Comment