Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Self-Published Bill Takes on Major Lit Prize!

Congrats and good luck also to another reader of this blog! And sorry for the screaming headline - I'm just so excited.

Bill Keeth, a retired teacher and writer based in Manchester, contacted me last year to talk about a review I'd published of Sebastian Faulks Birdsong on Amazon.com. I hadn't liked it, neither had he (though the rest of the world seems to love it).

This lead to lots of pleasurable talk via email of other things book ... particularly about the publishing situation in the UK and Malaysia, and how difficult it is for first time writers to get their foot in the door. (I was feeling just the teensiest bit smug because I had had some fiction in print!) After a soul-destroying attempt to find a publisher, Bill told me how he'd decided to take matters into his own hands and self publish his first novel Every Street in Manchester:
A latter day Manchester man relates his life story in a Mancunian vernacular with editorial assistance from a friend. The result of their joint endeavour is a tragicomic novel spanning the second half of the twentieth century in a northern suburb of the city from where the Third World is temporarily accessed via the Pennine Way.
And how great it is that he didn't just give up.

Because he's just been shortlisted for the £3,000 Portico Prize for Literature 2006. This is awarded biennially for a book "of general interest and literary merit and set wholly or mainly in the North West of England", previous winners have included Anthony Burgess and Bill Naughton.

This year here are only two other novels on the shortlist, and you might just have heard of them. One is Kalooki Nights by Dan Jacobson (longlisted for this year's Booker), and the other popular crime writer Val McDermid’s The Grave Tattoo. As the blurb says:
This year's prize sees one of the leading figures of the London literary world challenged by an unknown from a Manchester suburb.
There is also a non-fiction shortlist which includes Anthony Biswell's biography of Anthony Burgess. (The full list is here.)

The award ceremony is tonight and I have my fingers crossed for Bill.

Incidentally, Bill's second self-published novel Manchester Kiss came out a couple of days ago and you can read about both novels and enjoy extracts at Bill's website.

15 comments:

lil ms d said...

congratulations!!!

Jordan said...

Wow! Way to go, Bill!

Ron said...

I would have liked to read your review of Birdsong but I couldn't locate at Amazon UK, Sharon.

I don't remember much of the story now but I do remember liking the book a lot.

bibliobibuli said...

i'll post it - shall i? but it is a bit damning and i don't want 500 million faulks fans to turn up to lynch me!

Ron said...

And silly me forgot to congratulate Bill Keeth on his terrific achievement.

I see a big future for self-publishing as soon as it's able to shed some of its bad image caused by unscrupulous vanity houses. I have bought quite a few self-published books via the Internet now and haven't been disappointed yet.

Ron said...

If you don't want to publish it, can you email it please? I am interested because it's rare to find a negative review of the book.

Cheers, Ron ...

bibliobibuli said...

ron - i posted it already at the end of this post. i had forgotten till just. and you're right - of 168 reviews on amazon, most give it 5 stars and say "the best book i ever read". there must be something wrong with me. and actually i feel so bad about it i have bought his next book hoping that i will like him at second chance.

and sometimes you just wonder - do i not like this book because of the mood i'm in?? would i have liked it five years ago or twenty years hence? it's tough to swim the wrong way up the river of opinion.

sympozium said...

The fans will Faulk you up, Sharon! Or tell you to Faulk off!
I got through the first 100 pages and then thought, god, this book is tedious! And never finished it again...

bibliobibuli said...

you too, sympozium? maybe we're not an endangered species.

superstar said...

good picture

bibliobibuli said...

superstar - i think you are spamming me ...?

sympozium said...

Yes, it was a real chore to plough through Birdsong, and I chucked it aside. No way do I want to read his other book Chocolate Gray...:-)

Ron said...

Thanks, Sharon, I will read that later.

Mood certainly does affect your liking or not for a book, I believe.

I sometimes have started a book, got a short way into it and thought it the worst book ever. Then gone back to it months or years later and completely switched my view.

bibliobibuli said...

ron - when i glanced back to the post it seems you had left a comment on it!!

sympozium - i admire, totally, the way you can toss a book aside and not have qualms about it or think that maybe something is wrong with you, not the book. i am doing my best to cultivate this skill.

sympozium said...

Life's too short to feel guilty about unread/abandoned books! :-)))