We’re thrilled to announce that Jessica Au has been awarded the 2020 Novel Prize for Cold Enough for Snow.
The Novel Prize is a new, biennial award for a book-length work of literary fiction written in English by published and unpublished writers around the world. It offers $10,000 to the winner and simultaneous publication in the UK and Ireland by the London-based Fitzcarraldo Editions, in Australia and New Zealand by Sydney publisher Giramondo, and in North America by New York’s New Directions. The prize rewards novels which explore and expand the possibilities of the form, and are innovative and imaginative in style. Cold Enough for Snow, the inaugural winner, was selected from close to 1500 submissions worldwide, and will be published in early 2022.
A daughter and a mother travel to Tokyo in autumn. They walk the canals at night, escape the typhoon rains, share meals in small cafes and restaurants, and visit the galleries to see some of the city’s most enigmatic modern art. All the while, they talk: of the weather, of horoscopes, of clothes and objects, of family, distance and memory. But who is really speaking here, and what is the real reason behind this elliptical journey? Cold Enough for Snow is at once a careful reckoning and an elegy, one that questions whether any of us speak a common language, and what right we have to truly know another’s inner world.
Jessica Au is a writer based in Melbourne. Her first novel Cargo (2011) was published by Picador and was highly commended in the Kathleen Mitchell Award for a writer under 30. She is the former deputy editor of Meanjin, and is currently an associate editor at Aeon. Cold Enough for Snow is her second novel.
The other shortlisted titles are:
– Glenn Diaz’s Yñiga, a novel in which a former university teacher’s life is upended when an army general wanted for the murder of activists and peasants goes into hiding in her Manila neighborhood. Glenn Diaz’s first book The Quiet Ones (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2017) won the Palanca Grand Prize, the Madrigal-Gonzalez First Book Award, and the Philippine National Book Award. Born and raised in Manila, he is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
– Emily Hall’s The Longcut, a novel in the first person about the place of art and the artist in the world, asking how, in a time when art can be about anything and made of anything, do you figure out what your work is. Emily Hall is an editor at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She has been a contributor to Artforum since 2003 and before that was the full-time art critic at The Stranger. She has also written for Dwell and the New York Times Book Review. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and lives in New York, where she was born and raised.
– Christine Lai’s Landscapes, set in both contemporary England and in a near future fraught with ecological devastation and geopolitical upheaval, explores the work of remembering and the possibility of repair. Christine Lai is a Chinese-Canadian writer, based in Vancouver. She holds a PhD in English Literature from University College London, and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge.
– Nora Lange’s Us Fools, a tragicomic family drama narrated over two decades by two precocious sisters, beginning with the Midwestern farm crisis in the 1980s, and ambitiously layering in our collective preoccupations and obsessions in their search for a better future. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in BOMB, The Believer, Joyland, American Short Fiction, Denver Quarterly, The Fairy Tale Review, Hobart, The Morning News, Juked, LIT, HTMLGIANT, The Hairpin, Two Serious Ladies and elsewhere. Her project Dailyness was longlisted for the 2014 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers. She received an MFA from Brown University's Literary Arts Program, where she was a Kaplan Fellow.
– Lani Yamamoto’s Ours and Others’, a metaphysical mystery of sorts in two parts. In the first, the child of a fallen cult leader tracks an escaped sibling through an endless forest; in the second, the amnesic narrator wakes in a strange, desolate land, and tries to piece together the past. Lani Yamamoto has written and illustrated six children’s books, published in fourteen languages. Her work has been nominated for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize, the Icelandic Literary Prize for Children’s and YA Books, the Reykjavík Children’s Book Prize, and the Italian Scelte di Classe Award. Originally from the US, she has lived in Iceland for twenty-five years.
The Novel Prize is managed by the three publishers working in collaboration. Submissions were open from 1 April to 1 July 2020, with Fitzcarraldo Editions reading submissions from Africa and Europe, Giramondo from Asia and Australasia, and New Directions from the Americas. Prior to launching The Novel Prize, Fitzcarraldo Editions ran an annual novel prize for authors resident in the UK and Ireland. Adam Mars-Jones was awarded the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize for Box Hill, a strangely tragic love story between two men set in the gay biker community during the late 1970s. The winning novel was one of 321 submissions. Jeremy Cooper won the inaugural Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize in 2018 for Ash before Oak, a novel in the form of a nature diary, obliquely charting the narrator’s slow return to health. The winning novel was one of 181 submissions.
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