Lucy Cavendish College, part of the University of Cambridge, has named the 2017 winner of its fiction prize as Sarah Ward, with her novel Resurrection, Port Glasgow.
Selected from 385 entries, a longlist of 15 authors and a final shortlist of seven, Ward was announced as the 2017 winner in special event last night (25th May), attended by all shortlisted authors as well as judges, literary agents and guests.
The winning novel is narrated from two alternating points of view: artist Stanley Spencer in the 1940s in third person, and Jamie Lee, a young woman from Port Glasgow in the present day, in first person. The novel addresses themes of war, overcoming fear, and the redemptive nature of art.
Chair of judges Allison Pearson said: "The judges decided that Resurrection, Port Glasgow shone out for its compelling use of language, skilful handling of ideas and the vivid way it evoked two different eras. The characterisation of the artist, Stanley Spencer, was wholly convincing. Sarah Ward has written a rich, funny and moving book.”
College president, Jackie Ashley, said: “Warm congratulations to Sarah from us all at Lucy Cavendish College. Her novel combines literary merit with ‘unputdownability’ and I look forward to reading it in full.”
Ward worked in community education for 20 years before returning to university to study for a PhD in Social Policy, which she is due to complete in 2018. She began developing the ideas for Resurrection, Port Glasgow during the MLitt Creative Writing programme at the University of Glasgow, and has continued to write with support and feedback from G2 Writers Group and Skriva Writing School.
Alongside Pearson, the judging panel comprised Nelle Andrew, literary agent at PFD; Sophie Hannah, crime writer and poet; novelist Linda Grant; Gillian Stern, editor and ghostwriter; Dr Lindsey Traub, former fellow of English at Lucy Cavendish College; Dr Ian Patterson, poet, writer and fellow in English of Queens' College, Cambridge; and Gwyneth Williams, controller of BBC Radio 4.
The annual Fiction Prize, now in its seventh year, provides a unique opportunity for unpublished female authors. This year, the winner will receive £1,500 and consultation with Peters Fraser & Dunlop.
Previous entrants include 2013 winner Catherine Chanter whose debut The Well (Canongate) became a Richard and Judy Book Club pick with TV rights having been optioned by a major US studio. Gail Honeymoon, a finalist in 2014, was recently selected as one of the Observer’s new faces of fiction for 2017 for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (HarperCollins). Her novel was the subject of a bidding war eclipsing seven figures and was published on 18 May. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s Swan Song was shortlisted in 2015 before being acquired by Hutchinson last October in a six-figure pre-empt and will be published in the UK next year.
It was announced earlier this year that Peters Fraser & Dunlop will continue its sponsorship of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize until 2020.