2015 has come and gone, let’s look to 2016

It’s that magic time of the year again, it’s 35 plus degrees outside (I live in the Great Down Under), I’ve drank too much, eaten too much and the in-laws are getting on my last nerve.  However, these humid, sun burnt days covered in Aloe Vera, unmoving, does give me time to reflect and take stock on the books I have read this past year.  There have been good, bad and exceptional, which leads to the inevitable, mournful, pitiable thought: Where did the year go? Can someone please scratch my nose it hurts to move? And I should have read more?

Fortuitously we are given another chance to increase our book tally and plan for the new year as I recover and rehabilitate from the holiday excess, offering alms to the unread soul of 2015 and be like the bear and get stuck in a new.

Down to it, then, my cream of the crop, the duck’s nuts, or if you like the dog’s balls. Of the books I have reviewed (not all released in 2015) my picks for the year would have to include:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison coverThe story has its twists and turns, nothing too dramatic or surprising and is told across an expansive kingdom, but there are no flashy fight scenes, dragons or mighty heroes, just a fragile king looking for friendship and guidance, with a desire to make the life of the people he rules better.

It’s this theme that resonates and makes you love the book even more.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim ButcherUp, up, the winds and mists call the Grimm and wildcats. Duty, freedom and protection of family, new and old calls, as War blazes and the few and dedicated will be required to preserve the many. Another great series for a master of the Genre.

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson book cover imageDay Boy is a coming of age story set in a world of harsh truths, blood, death and survival. It is a poetic story of humanity, of monsters living in the Shadow of the Mountain, bitter cold and open to the burning of the clear night sky.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson book cover imageIn Shadows of Self you can feel the world, its mists and people. You can smell the horse leather and the coal in the air and you just want more.

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan book cover imageThe Autumn Republic is everything you want – and didn’t want – for this story. The writing quality, flow and depth of commitment Brian McClellan has put into this final book in the trilogy is no less than the previous two instalments. I cannot see how you will be disappointed.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman book cover imageIf you like your worlds colourful but dark, fantastical and adventurous, this is the book for you.

Speak the name of the Library in the Language and the door will open. Step through at your own risk.

The Vagrant by Peter Newman

The Vagrant by Peter Newman book cover imageThe Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

A Crown of Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

The middle runners, while not world burners, they provided me a goodly amount of enjoyment and nostalgia,

The not so middle, those riding on the crest of the wave until they reach the shore of the next in their series.

As always there are some books which I did not have a chance to review but do require a mention,

  • Hallow Point by Ari Marmell 7/10
    The second in Oberon series, is much like the first, a great little read that ticks along nicely. The site has a review from another reviewer, click here.
  • Time Salvager by Wesley Chu 6.5/10
    If I am being honest, I had high hopes for this book and was somewhat disappointed. Well written, good narrative and engaging in parts, its biggest negative is the story was not very original, sticking to well-worn ideas on time travel and cause and effect.
  • Lockstep by Karl Schroeder 7.5/10
    The first three quarters of this book are fantastic, unfortunately the last quarter peters out and the finale is unsatisfying. You get the feeling the story ending was rushed a little and that more was intended, but not achieved.
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson 9/10
    Awesome second installment to the Stormlight series. I tried a few times to get a review on paper, but the sheer size always made my words stumble and fall at the starting blocks. Can recommend this series enough got lovers of EPIC fantasy.
  • Firefight by Brandon Sanderson 7/10
    While not in the same league as Steelheart, the second installment in the Reckoners series had its highs and lows, but was overall a decent read.

I actually read all of the Secret History series by Simon R Green, The Man with the Golden Torc being book 1 and would recommend them to readers who enjoy funny, dark and on the nose comedy.

Side note on Brandon Sanderson, whose books fill the 2015 and 2016 list.

Have you ever seen the movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton, if not, the basic premise is Keaton’s character clones himself four times in order to do everything he needs to do in life, work, play, bake, etc. So in that regard I would like to postulate hear and now, due to the SHEER volume of words Brandon Sanderson has been out putting out in the last few years and in the year to come, that he is quadruplets. Three for every day and one for Sunday best. I have even found a raw photo of all four of them together, on the far left is Studious Sanderson, next is the Wiseguy Sanderson, followed by the Scholarly Wiseguy Sanderson and finally Mischievous Sanderson.

The Four Sandersons image

It’s either that or he has stolen Shakespeare’s monkeys and has had them working overtime for the last decade.

Image with monkeys typing

Side note end.

And now comes the goodies for 2016, including their release dates. Gimme!

Gimme Them All (Futurama)

  • Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson, 26th Jan 2016
  • Staked by Kevin Hearne, 26th January 2016
  • Calamity by Brandon Sanderson, 16th Feb 2016
  • Burned by Benedict Jacka, 5th April 2016
  • The Malice by Peter Newman, 24th April 2016
  • Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, 10th May 2016
  • A Blade of Black Steel by Alex Marshall, 24th May 2016
  • Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, 14th June 2016
  • The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, 16th June 2016
  • The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks, Mid-Late 2016
  • Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss, Mid 2016
    (Fingers, toes, legs, arms and eyes are all crossed it’ll happen)

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Shortlist for the fourth annual Book Illustration Competition announced

The Book Illustration CompetitionSix illustrators have beaten hundreds of entrants from over 30 countries to be shortlisted for the fourth annual Book Illustration Competition, a collaboration between House of Illustration and The Folio Society.

The Book Illustration Competition invited entrants, who must not already be published by The Folio Society, to submit three illustrations and a binding design for Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece about a life-changing journey, Heart of Darkness. The winner will receive a highly sought-after commission, worth £5,000, to complete a total of nine illustrations and a binding design for the book, which will be published by The Folio Society in September 2014. Five runners up will each receive £500 cash. Three prizes of the six are awarded to student entries.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on 24 September at House of Illustration in King’s Cross.

After extensive debate the shortlist was selected by a judging panel comprising artist, critic, curator and committee chairman for the Royal Academy Tom Phillips, former Royal Academy of Arts Director of Exhibitions and House of Illustration trustee Kathleen Soriano, last year’s competition winner Finn Dean and Flora Craig from House of Illustration, together with Folio’s Production Director, Editorial Director and Art Director.

“I applaud the thought, skill and time that everyone put into their illustrations for the competition and hope to work with many of the entrants in the future! We were all particularly impressed by the intelligent responses to the text by the shortlist. Each has a unique style but is equally strong in technique and ingenuity,” said Folio Society Art Director Sheri Gee.

“A wonderfully varied collection of entries that were often surprising in their boldness and desire to depict the themes of the story and did a great job in capturing the atmosphere of the book,” added last year’s Book Illustration Competition winner Finn Dean.

The Shortlist


Reto Crameri graduated in visual communication from Geneva University of Art and Design. In 2012 he was awarded with a grant for book illustration by the City of Geneva. He has also performed live drawing and worked on playful visual settings for exhibitions.

Max Häring studied at the Akademie der bildenden Künste München in Munich, Germany, and has worked as an independent artist since 1983. He works in mixed media in pen, ink and acrylics then digitally adds shading.

Sean McSorley is a freelance illustrator, originally from Cumbria but now based in London. He graduated with a degree in English Literature at Queen Mary University of London in 2006, and in 2014 he completed an MA in Visual Arts: Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. His clients have included Sony Television, Paramount and Universal Pictures. Sean’s work combines traditional ink drawing and printmaking with digital techniques, his subject matter often reflecting his interest in early- and mid-twentieth-century cinema and literature.

Kit Russell is a 23-year-old Scottish designer living in London. Having graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone college of Art & Design in 2013 with a First Class honours degree in Illustration, he has spent the last year offering freelance design services as well as interning at some of the top design agencies in London. Kit was runner up in last year’s Book Illustration Competition and also won ‘Best of Year’ in the D&AD student awards 2013.

Magdalena Szymaniec is a Polish illustrator currently residing in Richmond, VA. She will graduate Ringling College of Art and Design, majoring in Illustration, in 2014. Her digital work is inspired by traditional media including watercolour painting and printmaking. She aims to create decorative and intellectually stimulating illustrations. Symbolism and literature are her main inspirations for narrative work. She likes cats and David Bowie.

Bethany White is a 22-year-old artist and illustrator from Manchester. Her work aims to lift the veil on the esoteric and arcane, delving into the vast subjects of occult philosophy and the pantheons of ancient mythology. This is explored through the combination of highly controlled dot work, ungoverned chance textures, and a range of different print mediums. Since graduating from Manchester School of Art, Bethany has participated in group exhibitions across the United Kingdom and produced work for occult musicians. Her latest artwork will be released via the Italian record label ‘I Voidhangar Records’ towards the end of 2014.

Congratulations to all those short-listed and here are there fantastic illustrations. Which one would you award as winner? My personal favourite is bottom right.

Shortlisted illustrations 1-3

Shortlisted illustrations 4-6

Andrew Solomon wins 2014 Wellcome Book Prize

Andrew Solomon has been announced as the winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2014 for ‘Far from the Tree: a dozen kinds of love’.

The Wellcome Book Prize, worth £30,000, aims to recognise and celebrate the best new work of fiction or non-fiction released each year centred on medicine and health.

National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon is a writer and activist working on politics, culture and psychology. Selected from a six-strong shortlist, ‘Far from the Tree’ is a work, a decade in the writing, about family. It tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

Sir Andrew Motion, Chair of Judges, said: "Andrew Solomon’s ‘Far from the Tree’ was chosen unanimously as the winner by the judges of this year’s Wellcome Book Prize: we all felt it to be a truly outstanding book on a very strong shortlist. Solomon has already been widely praised for his depth of research, his writerly flair and his range of address – and all these things are indeed remarkable: the book took him ten years to write, and the benefits of his patience and thoughtfulness are evident everywhere. But its greatest strength, perhaps, is to combine proper scholarly objectivity with a sense of intimate connection – and to do so in ways that allow for the creation of distinct categories and clear conclusions, while at the same time admitting contradictions and exceptions. It is, in other words, a very well-organised book yet a very generous-minded one: a profound reflection on the family, and on the influence of medicine and science. And not only that. It’s also a book that is driven powerfully by an appeal to personal experience – by Solomon’s recollections of growing up as a gay man, and by his exploration of the difficulties and opportunities this created for him. Taken all together, these things make it an exceptionally distinguished winner: startlingly intelligent, generously compassionate, memorably insightful, and courageous."

Andrew Solomon said: "I am profoundly honoured to receive the Wellcome Book Prize and am very grateful to the judges for their generous reading of my work. There sometimes seems to be an opposition between the social progress that allows us to accept the range of human difference and the medical progress that allows us to cure and eliminate many such differences. My book is about the extraordinary stories of love and compassion that unfold around this duality. For such work to be recognised by a prize that is specifically focused on medicine and health indicates the increasing openness to the nuanced questions of what constitutes health, and what the appropriate parameters are for medicine. The Wellcome Book Prize is a tribute to the many families I interviewed while writing the book, who told me their stories with such bracing honesty and such unyielding passion. I accept this prize on their behalf, with admiration for the human spirit that allowed so many of them to end up grateful for lives they would once have done anything to avoid, that allowed them to love and fight for children whom so much of society might have dismissed. The backdrop to the book, woven through its chapters, is my own experience as a child who was miserable about being gay and as an adult who has found joy with my husband and our children. For this award to come so soon after the UK has passed gay marriage is especially cheering; my husband and I first celebrated our civil partnership in the UK in 2007, and we are overjoyed, as are so many other people enmeshed in love, to be able to assume that beautiful word for our relationship. That, like this prize, marks a more tolerant, kinder world. This is a rapturous day for me."

Andrew Solomon and his 20014 Wellcome Book Prize

‘Far from the Tree’ is a book on how parents relate to their children. Drawing on interviews with over 300 families, covering subjects including deafness, dwarfism, Down’s syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, prodigies, children born of rape, children convicted of crime and transgender people, Andrew Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices. Difference is potentially isolating, but ‘Far from the Tree’ celebrates repeated triumphs of human love and compassion to show that the shared experience of difference is what unites us.

"This book starts out as a study of parents raising ‘difficult’ children, and ends up as an affirmation of what it is to be human." ‘Guardian’

"It’s a book everyone should read… there’s no one who wouldn’t be a more imaginative and understanding parent – or human being – for having done so… a wise and beautiful book." ‘New York Times’

Winners of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award announced

The Hans Christian Andersen AwardThe Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has named Nahoko Uehashi from Japan winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award, Roger Mello from Brazil winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award #IBBYHCA, the most prestigious in international children’s literature, has been awarded biennially to authors since 1956 and to illustrators since 1966 by the International Board on Books for Young People. It is given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works are judged to have made lasting contributions to children’s literature. The Andersen medals and diplomas will be presented to the winners at the 34th International IBBY Congress in Mexico City, Wednesday, 10 September 2014.

Nahoko Uehashi writes unique fantasy novels from the viewpoint of cultural anthropology. She believes one thing, that people from every corner of the world have in common is a love for telling stories. Her stories about honour and duty, fate and sacrifice, are refreshing as well as being authentically Japanese. Her fantasy worlds are loosely based on medieval Japan, while at the same time are very much worlds of her own making. Not content to simply create a landscape of geography and mythology, Uehashi includes allusions to the class system as well as the interaction between spiritual and moral dimensions.

Uehashi conceives worlds in which relationships exist among different planes: worlds seen as a network within the universe rather than merely as a space. She has an extraordinary ability to create different fantasy worlds and her work has tenderness and a great respect for nature and all sapient creatures.

Uehashi was selected from 28 authors nominated for the Award.

Roger Mello’s illustrations provide avenues to explore the history and culture of Brazil. He does not underestimate a child’s ability to recognize and decode cultural phenomena and images. His illustrations allow children to be guided through stories by their imagination. Travel and discovery are important aspects of Mello’s artistic expression and the rich content of his illustrations reflect his passion for folklore and for exploration of the world. Through his incredibly colourful and thrilling illustrated stories children gain deeper understanding both of their own culture and that of others around the world. He invites them to immerse themselves in different ways of life, thus establishing a respectful, appreciative understanding of other cultures. He shares his interests in Brazil and in international culture and ritual with his readers, taking them on a journey through time and space. His illustrations are innovative and inclusive, and they incorporate images that promote tolerance and respect for the world’s cultures and traditions.

Mello was selected from 30 illustrators nominated for the Award.

Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury announces 2014 shortlist

The Hans Christian Andersen awardSix authors and six illustrators have been selected from 58 candidates submitted by 33 national sections of IBBY for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award. The award, launched in 1958, is considered the most prestigious in international children’s literature. It is given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People to an author and illustrator whose complete works have made lasting contributions to children’s literature. The winners will be announced Monday, March 24 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The six short-listed authors in alphabetical order are:

  • Ted van Lieshout from the Netherlands. Lieshout uses a dialogue of words and images. With his original and visual writing style he observes the world with a different perspective every time. He is always looking for new styles and techniques to shape both words and pictures.
  • Houshang Moradi Kermani from Iran. Kermani has been writing creative humanistic works for children and adults for over four decades. Nature, village, family, and poverty together with self-respect, peace and mutual understanding are the most frequent subjects of his work.
  • Mirjam Pressler from Germany. “Without books the world remains a confining place and limits what we can imagine and consider doing,” says Pressler. “We need many different books. Books provide us with perspectives. A certain book can acquire an important, world-changing meaning.”
  • Nahoko Uehashi from Japan. Uehashi tells stories that are replete with imagination, culture and the beauty of a sophisticated process and form. Her literary subjects are based on ancient Japanese mythology and science-fiction fantasy that are deeply rooted in human reality.
  • Renate Welsh from Austria. Welsh focuses on children’s social reality therefore enabling them to cope with their own lives. Family crisis and social injustice, illnesses, social exclusion, violence at home and at school, isolation and identity conflicts are depicted with remarkable honesty.
  • Jacqueline Woodson from the USA. Woodson often features African-American characters in her books because she feels strongly that children need to see themselves reflected in books. Each book she writes is a new experience, a way to learn something new or engage with a different subject that matters to her.

The six short-listed illustrators in alphabetical order are:

  • Rotraut Susanne Berner from Germany. We can find figures dancing, houses that float and fish that fly in her drawings. She succeeds in creating a picture-book world where big things can be small, and small things big.
  • John Burningham from the UK. Burningham is a great celebrator of imagination. The style of his picture books is spontaneous though the textures are very carefully worked. His works are full of life, poetry and personality.
  • Eva Lindström from Sweden. Lindström has a highly personal technique that mixes water-colour, gauche and pencil. Her characters express the child’s inventiveness, energy and unconditional delight in life, while in other works she evokes a very adult sense of loneliness.
  • Roger Mello from Brazil. Mello creates original handcrafted metaphors and allegories. His concern for social themes is reflected in his works, where we can also find something that is ceremonial and magical.
  • François Place from France. Place’s work is characterized by a distinct line between documentary and fiction. It offers the reader a fascinating view of historical and geographical realities as well as imaginary worlds.
  • Øyvind Torseter from Norway. Torseter has intuitive and innovative work, which he constantly renews combining both traditional and digital techniques. He also experiments with graphic effects and three dimensional paper clippings.

A full list of candidates can be found at www.ibby.org

Graham Joyce wins British Fantasy Award for Best Novel

Some Kind of Fairy Tale cover imageGraham Joyce received a standing ovation at the 1,000-strong awards ceremony of the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton on Sunday 2nd November 2013. Picking up the Best Fantasy Novel Award for an unprecedented sixth time in his career, Joyce was earlier this year diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma cancer. The event marked his first public appearance since his diagnosis.

Joyce won the Best Fantasy Novel Award for Some Kind Of Fairy Tale, a story in which a young girl thought to have been abducted from the woodlands of the East Midlands returns to her family after twenty years.

Six months ago Joyce had the experience of being revived by an emergency resuscitation team at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.  Joyce said, “Just being able to stand here today is a wonderful award, thanks to the doctors and nurses of the NHS.”

In 1989 Joyce quit his job as a youth worker and went to live and write in a beachside shack on the Greek island of Lesbos.  He sold his first novel after a year in Greece. Since then he has written twenty novels and numerous short stories.

Winner of the Sony Young Movellist of the Year announced

Online writing community, Movellas.com and Random House Children’s have announced that the winner of the Sony Young Movellist competition, which launched in February 2013 is 19 year-old Helen Hiorns from Coventry. Helen’s novel, The Name On Your Wrist, was chosen from over 100 entries by Children’s Laureate Blackman and her prize is a publishing contract from Random House Children’s Publishers.

From over 100 entries, Helen Hiorns, age 19 chosen as winner by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman.The Name On Your Wrist book cover.

“Wow! What a story! And what I loved about this was the way all the major characters were so fleshed out and real. And I couldn’t predict the ending. In fact, I didn’t even see that ending coming. I loved that! I loved the idea of each person’s soulmate being written on their wrist, but Corin, the heroine, is full of questions about how her soulmate has been chosen and why. She is a loud rebel. Her sister Jacinta is a quiet one. And the story was such a satisfying read,” said Malorie Blackman of the winning entry.

“We loved this story. The protagonist Corin is a complex character who we come to love through her rebellious and inquisitive nature. Helen Hiorns has created a world not to dissimilar from the world we live in today, but yet so different. The subtlety in her writing is a real strength. We can’t wait for the sequel!” added Yvonne Biggins, Movellas Community Director.

The Name On Your Wrist ebook publishes on July 15 2013 with Random House Children’s Publishers and can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

“I feel like I’ve fallen into a novel myself. I wrote the book in a mad rush and found out about the publishing contract whilst backpacking round Europe. It’s been incredible! Thank you, Movellas, Random House, Sony and The Reading Agency,” enthused the winner, Helen Hiorns.

The runners up were My Corrupted Lungs by Kyra Schlachter and Girl With A Thousand Faces by Emma Yeo.

Inaugural Folio Prize 2014 announces its panel of judges

Lavinia Greenlaw (credit Julian Abrams)The Folio Prize has today announced the panel of judges for the inaugural prize. Lavinia Greenlaw (pictured right) has been drawn as Chair of a jury comprising international writers Michael Chabon, Sarah Hall, Nam Le and Pankaj Mishra, all of whom are drawn from the Academy. The Folio Prize, worth £40,000, will recognise and celebrate the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the UK during 2013, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin. The judges will select a shortlist of eight titles which will be announced in February 2014, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in London, March 2014.  It is the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world.

“This is the perfect time for the Folio Prize to be inaugurated. Fiction is finding new forms and writers are resisting all kinds of borders. The nomination procedure reflects how closely writing is bound up with reading, and the pleasure we all take in discovering and sharing books. I’m honoured and delighted to be chairing the jury,” commented Chair of the Judges, Lavinia Greenlaw.

Michael Chabon (credit Jennifer Chaney)Pankaj Mishra (credit Nina Subin) Sarah Hall (credit Richard Thwaites)
Pictured above: Michael Chabon, Pankaj Mishra and Sarah Hall.

The judges have been drawn by lot from The Folio Prize Academy, a body of respected, award-winning writers and critics from across the globe. The expertise and experience of Academicians reflects The Folio Prize’s aim to encourage a consistent focus on excellence. More information on The Folio Prize can be found at www.thefolioprize.com.

Winner of the 2013 Book Illustration Competition announced

An artist who embraced the challenge of illustrating Aldous Huxley’s dystopian fable, Brave New World, has won the third Book Illustration Competition. Beating over 500 entrants, Finn Dean’s illustrations form part of a commission for the Folio Society edition of Brave New World, featuring an introduction by multi award-winning writer Ursula K Le Guin; it will be published in September 2013. The first copies will be available at the award ceremony at the Collyer Bristow Gallery on Tuesday 9th July. Finn Dean’s commission is worth £4,500, and the five runners-up will each receive a cash prize of £500.

Finn Dean's winning illustrations.

The Book Illustration Competition is a partnership between House of Illustration and The Folio Society. The international competition is open to all illustrators over the age of 18, both student and professional, with the winner receiving a Folio Society commission.

Selecting a winner proved challenging, and it was after much deliberation that the judging panel, comprising broadcaster, curator, former Chairman of Arts Council England and House of Illustration trustee Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, writer and Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at UCL John Sutherland, last year’s competition winner Igor Karash, and Flora Craig from House of Illustration together with Folio’s Production Director, Senior Editor and Art Director, agreed on Finn Dean.

Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at UCL, John Sutherland, says: “There is no book which will not benefit from the addition of illustration as good (or better) than the book itself. At its most useful, illustration is not decorative, but interpretive. The world which Huxley imagines in Brave New World, terrifying and thought-provoking in equal measure, would seem to present a rich landscape to the illustrator but the fact that it is a book so well-known and so well-imagined actually doesn’t make the task at all easy. But the competition was fierce and the range of submissions fascinatingly varied and vivid. There is only one commercial publisher, currently (and, thank heavens, successfully) operating which has realised this truth and has invested its identity in it. The Folio Society. In short, best books, best illustrations.”

The Book Illustration Competition winner, Finn Dean, says: “Taking part in the competition has been a great opportunity to work on a piece of literature that was a great source of inspiration whilst at University, and recent years have shown just how visionary Huxley’s book was.”

2013 Book Illustration Competition shortlist announced

Six illustrators have been chosen from over 500 entrants to be shortlisted for the third annual Book Illustration Competition, a collaboration between the House of Illustration and The Folio Society.

The Book Illustration Competition invited entrants to submit three illustrations and a binding design for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The winner will receive a commission worth £4,500 to complete a set of eight illustrations for the book, which will be published by The Folio Society in September 2013 with an introduction by multi award-winning writer Ursula le Guin. Five runners up will each receive £500 cash. Three prizes of the six will be awarded to student entries.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on Tuesday 9th July.

The Shortlist

  • Maria M Carrasco, 29, graduated in Graphic Design from Camberwell College of Arts in 2012 and holds a previous degree in Media Communication and Advertising. Maria will be exhibiting interactive works at the Nordes Design Conference in Denmark on 9-12 June, as well as holding a workshop at Sofia Design Week in Bulgaria from 21-30 June 2013.
  • Finn Dean graduated in Graphic Design from Bath School of Art and Design in 2004, and won the Student Category of the SAA Illustration Awards in the same year. Now 33, he has participated in a number of group exhibitions across the UK and in 2007 was Runner Up in the Observer/Jonathan Cape short graphic story competition. Finn had work featured in Danny Boyle’s latest film Trance and is currently working on a series of book covers for Penguin.
  • Vitali Konstantinov studied architecture, graphic arts, painting and art history in the USSR and Germany and currently works as a freelance artist and illustrator in Germany. Vitali’s illustrations for contemporary and classical texts have featured in numerous publications and exhibitions worldwide and in 2011 his work was nominated in the German Children’s Literature Awards.
  • Claire Malary is a 24 year old freelance graphic designer and illustrator in Paris, where she graduated in Graphic Design from the Higher School of Graphic Arts and Architecture in 2011. Claire’s work has been exhibited in Paris this year and she was a Finalist at the 2012 International Fair of Drawing online. She has also studied Fashion Design.
  • Varvara Perekrest, 27,is studying for an MA in Design with Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Kingston University, having graduated in Illustration from the University of Hertfordshire. Previously, Varvara spent four years working with various magazines, fashion designers, galleries, and art and film festivals in Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Ireland. She is currently working on a project for ChildVision, an education centre for Blind Children in Ireland.
  • Kit Russell, 22, graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design this year and currently lives in Dundee, Scotland. He works across a range of mediums and uses a number of different printing processes to create conceptual, illustrative imagery. Kit’s most recent projects explore his interest in pseudoscientific theories of the mind, visual illusions and the relationship between entopic imagery and cognition.

The shortlist was selected by a judging panel comprising broadcaster, curator, former Chairman of Arts Council England and House of Illustration trustee Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, writer and Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at UCL John Sutherland, last year’s competition winner Igor Karash, and Flora Craig from House of Illustration together with Folio’s Production Director, Senior Editor and Art Director.


Illustrations, from left to right: Maria M Carrasco, Finn Dean, Kit Russell, Claire Malary, Varvara Perekrest, Vitali Konstantinov

“We all thought, in advance of the judging, that the imagery of Brave New World was in danger of turning into visual cliché. But the shortlisted entries all turned out to have original and challenging ‘takes’ on the story – some updating it to today’s genetic engineering, some using period styles, some focusing on surprising moments. The judging proved to be a fascinating experience,” commented Professor Sir Christopher Frayling.

“Framing The Book Illustration Competition as a real book assignment contributed to both the quality of the submitted illustrations and the variety of styles and concepts explored. Although this approach made aspects of judging more objective it was still a challenge due to the high volume of exceptional work. I praise all the shortlisted artists for their amazing illustrations, each deserving of a fine publication,” added Igor Karash.