Major prize for Suffolk author Melissa Harrison

PUBLISHED: 11:40 23 May 2019

Featured author Melissa Harrison Photo: Brian David Stevens

Featured author Melissa Harrison Photo: Brian David Stevens

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Suffolk Magazine columnist and author Melissa Harrison has been announced as the UK winner of the European Union Prize for Literature 2019.

Melissa, a nature writer, who lives in Suffolk and writes a monthly column for Suffolk magazine called The Nature of Things, has been recognised for her novel, All Among the Barley (Bloomsbury Circus), which explores the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia.

The book was chosen from a shortlist of three novels including Michael Hughes' Country and Benjamin Wood's A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better. Set in rural Suffolk between the world wars, the book raises questions about the dangers of nationalism, and how easily a love of place can be corrupted into something dark and exclusionary. Hailed as "impossible to forget" (The Times) and "startling" (Financial Times), it was chosen as Book of the Year by The Observer, New Statesman, BBC History magazine and The Irish Times.

"In these politically unstable times I'm very proud to represent Britain in the European Union Prize for Literature with a novel that explores the dangerous allure of nativism, nostalgia and xenophobia," says Melissa.

All Among the Barley is Melissa's third novel. She is also the author of Clay and At Hawthorn Time which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize, and one work of non-fiction, Rain, which was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize. She is a nature writer, critic and columnist for The Times, The Financial Times and The Guardian, among others.

Now in its tenth year, the EU Prize for Literature recognises the best emerging fiction writers across Europe, shining a spotlight on the creativity and diversity of contemporary literature in Europe today, and promoting the sharing of books and ideas across national and linguistic borders. It is open to 36 European countries and Melissa is one of 14 authors from across Europe to have been selected as a winner, each being awarded €5,000. The UK's inclusion in the prize after its departure from the EU is to be confirmed. The award ceremony will take place on October 2 in Brussels.

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