Kirstin Innes' "acclaimed" debut novel about sex workers in Glasgow, Fishnet, has been awarded the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize today (12th October) following a public voting process.
Fishnet, the story of Fiona’s search for her missing sister, was published by Glasgow-based independent publisher, Freight Books.
Innes said: "I can't quite believe this has happened. Fishnet was up against some utterly brilliant novels, so it's mind-blowing to have won both stages of the competition. I hope this prize can bring a little bit more attention to some of the issues I wanted to address with the book. Huge thanks to the judging panel and to the people who participated in the public vote!"
Innes' book beat Kat Gordon's The Artificial Anatomy of Parks (Legend Press), Oliver Langmead's Dark Star (Unsung Stories), Paul McVeigh's The Good Son (Salt), Tasha Kavanagh's Things We Have in Common (Canongate) and Melanie Finn's Shame (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) to claim the title.
Chairman of the judges, Sam Jordison, said: "Fishnet is a fine novel. It possibly wasn’t the most polished and complete literary work on the list, but there is some excellent writing in there, as well as real emotional and political urgency. It’s gripping, it’s humane and it’s the kind of novel that can actually make you investigate your own prejudices and opinions. I know it challenged a few of my ideas about prostitution and the vulnerability (or otherwise) of sex workers. When I wrote about it earlier, I even said that I thought it was important. Immediately afterwards, I had a pang of doubt. Had I gone too far? Can a novel like this one really make a difference?
"Now that a few weeks have passed and I’ve seen the reactions of other readers to the book, I’d stand by those words. It’s a book that really moves people and really makes them think. It feels like a novel that has the potential to make a difference to a lot of lives – if only enough people read it. Hopefully this victory will help to make that possible. I hope that this book is spread far and wide – and I’m proud to have been involved in a prize that can ignite that process."
Innes is a freelance writer, journalist and arts PR. She won the Allen Wright Award for Excellence in Arts Journalism in 2007 and 2011 and writes for the Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, the Herald, the List and the Independent.