Alex Wheatle has won the 50th Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for his “hard-hitting” novel Crongton Knights (Atom).
The novel is set in a fictional inner-city council estate and focuses on McKay, whose dad has worked all hours since his mum died and whose brother is out riding the streets at night, tempting trouble.
Wheatle beat off competition from shortlisted authors Tanya Landman’s Hell and High Water, American novelist Brian Selznick’s The Marvels and Australian writer Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow to win the prize.
Author David Almond, who helped to judge the prize after winning it last year, said of Wheatle’s work: “I love this book. It’s elegant, authentic and humane. This is mature, powerful writing by an author with great talent and great heart.”
Author and fellow judge, S F Said, meanwhile, said: “Wheatle’s writing is poetic, rhythmic and unique, remaking the English language with tremendous verve. Though Crongton is his invention, it resonates with many urban situations, not only in Britain but around the world. Crongton Knights is a major novel from a major voice in British children’s literature.”
Kate Saunders also helped to judge the prize, on a panel chaired by Guardian children’s books editor Julia Eccleshare.