Here is a much needed reminder of the nominees with links to my wordy and yet delightful reviews:
- Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre (Jonathan Cape).
- The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne (Blackfriars)
- Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta (HarperCollins)
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers (Self-Published)
- The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara (Atlantic Books)
I’m going to assume that after reading my ecstatic review of Viper Wine you rushed straight to your local independent bookstore or online repository of digital stuff and purchased a copy. I’m also going to assume that you’ve read it, that you loved it, and that like the judges of the Golden Tentacle you’ve decided to send Hermione Eye an award of your own devising.
Because in this instance the Kitschie judges got it spot on. Yes, the Byrne and the Itaranta are good books – both doing interesting things and dealing with crunchy themes, but Viper Wine is like nothing I’ve read before. Historical fiction written with postmodern flair. Fiction that’s both extremely self aware of its own artifice and also able to say insightful stuff about vanity and science, the rational and the irrational. The judges noted the novel’s audacity. An excellent single word description for this fine book.
I wasn’t blown away by the Chamber and had real issues with the Yanagihara, but overall this is a good list of debut novels. Any shortlist that introduces you to a novel you’ve never heard of, a book that subsequently blows your mind, is a shortlist worth applauding.
By the way, we people in the genre should be making more of the début author category. We’ve got the Golden Tentacle, we’ve got the Locus Awards and the Crawford Award also looks at début authors (not a shortlist I read, but I may change that next year). Is there any others in the genre space? As I see it, the Nebula Award, in particular, is missing a trick by not promoting début genre authors. I don’t know much about SFWA and its operations, well other than the controversies of recent years, but I would have thought that a best début category would be a fine fit for them.
I’d also add the Hugos… but, no.