Always excited when the shortlist comes out. It may be only a lottery, a cynical exercise in marketing, or a reductive, subjective way of choosing the best novel of the year, but it makes books, writers and readers news for a few weeks, and that buzz surely has to be a good thing for literature?
I’m excited for all the shortlisted writers, but the one who has caught my attention, and whose book I will definitely be reading, is Stephen Kelman with ‘Pigeon English’. Three cheers for a book written in the voice of an eleven year old boy! Last year, Emma Donoghue’s extraordinary and gripping ‘Room’ gave us the thoughts and ideas of a five year old, which also made it to the shortlist. Children need and deserve this level of adult attention, in books as in life.
Writing as I do, for and about children, I feel passionately that the world should sit up and take notice of them. In ‘Micka’, I spoke in the voices of two boy characters whose world, I feel, ought to be known and understood better by adults.
Seeing ‘Pigeon English’ on the shortlist is brilliant, and I salute the judges for their choice.