Chris Cleave has won the inaugural Goldsboro Books Glass Bell award for contemporary fiction for his fourth novel, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven (Sceptre).
Cleave’s win was announced at Goldsboro Books’ 18th birthday party on Thursday evening (28th September).
The decision was taken by the Goldsboro books staff, who chose the wartime epic for its winner as both "a heart-breaking love story" and an "unflinching account of the profound effects that Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain whilst the soldiers fought on the front line". The novel's plot follows a newly recruited teacher who resolves to stay in London at the outbreak of WW2.
The Goldsboro Books team agreed that the novel is "a deeply moving, yet accessible account of a side to the war that is not often written about; the minutiae of everyday life in a seemingly crumbling world". The heart of the novel comes from the characters’ ability to overcome the detritus and find light in the bleakest of times, they also said.
To win the £2,000 award, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven overcame stiff competition on a shortlist comprising: Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad (Fleet); former soldier Harry Parker's Anatomy of a Soldier (Faber); Adam Hamdy's Pendulum (Headline), a book James Patterson called "one of the best thrillers of the year"; Ian McGuire's Man Booker-longlisted novel The North Water (Scribner); and Beth Lewis' debut literary thriller, Wolf Road (Borough Press). The prize is for a novel written in English and published the previous year in the UK.
David Headley, managing director for Goldsboro Books, said: "I have been a long time fan of Chris Cleave’s writing and it pleases me that Everyone Brave is Forgiven has won. This novel had the same affect on all of my colleagues, Chris’s ability to make you laugh in one sentence and then break your heart in the next is powerful writing. The shortlist is a very impressive selection of books and any one could have won, they really all deserve to read and acknowledged."