Established in 1965 as the Guardian Fiction Award by The Guardian newspaper, the prize is worth £10,000 to the winner. In 1965 the prize money was 200 guineas (£210) and was awarded to a work of fiction by British or Commonwealth writer and published in the UK. The shortlist is announced in November each year and the winner in December.

The Guardian's first book award was established in 1999 to reward the finest new literary talent with a £10,000 prize for an author's first book. The award is open to writing across all genres. It is unique among book awards as debut works of fiction are judged alongside those of non-fiction

The £10,000 prize, which covers fiction, non-fiction and poetry published in the UK, was voted for in 2008 by a panel of judges, with input from Waterstone's reading groups. Groups from Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bath, Oxford and London, and one based online. Their combined voting power was greater than that of the panel of four judges.

2008 Winner |2008 Shortlist |2008 Longlist |Winners 1999 to 2007l

2008 Winner The Rest is Noise ross_alex

Dec 3rd- An intricate, kaleidoscopic, all-embracing history of 20th-century music from Mahler to La Monte Young is the winner of this year's Guardian first book award. Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise - was the clear and undisputed winner of the £10,000 prize.

The chair of the judging panel, Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead, said: "In some quarters this book has been seen as not having a popular appeal. Our prize – which, uniquely, relies on readers' groups in the early stages of judging – proves that, on the contrary, there is a huge appetite among readers for clear, serious but accessible books." Book details

2008 Shortlist Guardian First Book Prize


The Guardian has announced an "ambitious, varied and incredibly individual" shortlist for its first book award. The shortlist comprises two non-fiction titles and three fiction titles (click link for book info below).

Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise - Winner

Owen Matthews Stalin's Children

Ross Raisin, God's Own Country

Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole

Mohammed Hanif, A Case of Exploding Mangoes

"These are sophisticated books that require a big investment from the reader - an investment for which they are richly rewarded," said Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead, chairwoman of the judges. She also paid tribute to the books' "generic inventiveness" and "defiance of easy marketing packagability".

The £10,000 prize, which covers fiction, non-fiction and poetry published in the UK, is voted for by a panel of judges, with input from Waterstone's reading groups. Groups from Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bath, Oxford and London, and one based online, helped narrow down the 10-strong longlist to five books

Award tragic Blog Guardian First Book Award: Comparing Aardvarks with Apples?

Author TV Interviews

Interviews with Steve Toltz, Ross Raisin and Alex Ross on BookAwardTV. Click on demand then Guardian First Novel Shortlisted Authors. Includes a 50 minute presentation by Alex Ross at a Google Bbok Forum.

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2008 Winner - Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise

teh_rest_is_noiseProduct Description
A sweeping musical history that goes from the salons of pre-war Vienna to Velvet Underground shows in the sixties. In The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker, gives us a riveting tour of the wild landscape of twentieth-century classical music: portraits of individuals, cultures, and nations reveal the predicament of the composer in a noisy, chaotic century. Taking as his starting point a production of Richard Strauss's Salome, conducted by the composer on 16 May 1906 with Puccini, Schoenberg, Berg and Adolf Hitler seated in the stalls, Ross suggests how this evening can be considered the century's musical watershed rather the riotous premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring seven years later. Ross goes on to explore the mythology of modernism, Sibelius and the music of small countries, Kurt Weill, the music of the Third Reich, Britten, Boulez and the post-war avant-garde, and interactions between minimalist composers and rock bands in the sixties and seventies.

From the Inside Flap
In the twentieth century, music ceased to be one thing. It became a congregation of distinct musical cultures, speaking all at once in mutually alien tongues. In The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker, gives us a riveting tour of the wild landscape of twentieth century classical music, with portraits of individuals, cultures and nations that reveal the predicament of the individual composer in a century of noise.

Taking as its starting point a May 1906 performance of Richard Strauss's ultra-decadent opera Salome, with the composer himself conducting and Puccini, Schoenberg, Berg and (rumour has it) Adolf Hitler seated in the stalls, Ross explains how this one evening can be considered the century's true musical watershed, rather than the riotous premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring seven years later.

The drama radiates outward from turn-of-the-century Europe, taking us from pre-First World War Vienna to Paris in the twenties, from Benjamin Britten's Aldeburgh to downtown New York in the sixties. Ross weaves together art, politics and cultural history to tell the story of the entire twentieth century in sound.

In the crashing finale, Ross combines his themes of musical politics, political music and the predicament of the solitary voice with an examination of progressive pop artists such as the Velvet Underground and Brian Eno, demonstrating how classical and modern traditions have been re-invented in the digital era, and showing what the future holds for music and its relationship to a chaotic world.

'A remarkable achievement, quite outstripping comparable surveys...A highly enjoyable book of impressive scholarship...that every music lover should read.'....Observer
'[A] vital, engaging, happily polyphonic book.' ...Metro
'For anyone interested in classical music, this is pretty much required reading.' ..Sunday Times 'A superb and inclusive account by a champion of modern music.'
Times Literary Supplement 'Puts the history back into music and the music back into history.'Classical Music A masterly writer...A remarkable book.' .Prospect
'There is so much in it that is will be a work of cultural importance.'
BBC Music Magazine 'Alex Ross is a site foreman with encyclopaedic range, acute cultural antennae and an awesome cultural verve.' Classic FM, Book of the Month
'Strikingly perceptive and empathetic studies of for instance, Britten and Sibelius and of Strauss's political and personal travails in Nazi-Germany.'

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About the Author
Alex Ross is music critic of The New Yorker magazine. He was born in Washington, DC and studied English literature and music at Harvard College. He first wrote music critcism for The New Rebuplic and for Fanfare. He has also written articles on film and television for the Times Sunday Arts and Leisure section. He has also contributed to Lingua Franca, Transition, BBC Music Magazine, Slate, Feed, Spin, and the forthcoming new edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Alex Ross's Blog |Alex Ross on BookAwardTV (click On Demand Guardian First Novel)

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2008 Other Shortlisted

Owen Matthews Stalin's Children

On a midsummer day in 1937, the young Commissar Boris Bibikov kissed his two daughters goodbye and disappeared into the official Packard waiting outside. It was the last time his family ever saw him. Arrested by Stalin's secret police, the loyal Party man confessed to a grotesque series of crimes against the Revolution. His wife, an Enemy of the People by association, was sent to the gulag, leaving the young Lyudmila and Lenina alone to face separation in a world turned suddenly cold.

Lyudmila grew up a fighter, and when she fell in love with a tall young foreigner in Moscow at the height of the Cold War, she knew there would be further battles ahead.Naively infatuated with Russia, Mervyn Matthews had embarked on a dangerous flirtation with the KGB. But when finally asked to work for the organisation, he refused. Revenge came quickly: Mervyn was thrown out of the country; Lyudmila lost her job. For six years, stranded on opposite sides of the ideological divide that shaped their generation, they kept their love alive in a daily stream of letters - some anguished, some funny, but all suffused with a hope that they would eventually be reunited.

Decades later, Owen Matthews pieces together his grandfather's passage through the harrowing world of Stalin's purges, and tells the story of his parents' Cold War love affair through their letters and memories. Interspersed with the story of his family is his own journey as a young reporter in nineties Moscow. This is a raw, vivid memoir about a young man's struggle to understand his parents' lives and the strange country which 'made us and freed us and very nearly broke us.'

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Daily Telegraph
"Written with poise and an awareness of the ability of language to dissect feeling, 'Stalin's Children' realises compellingly the dramatic and emotional potential of its material."

Andrew Miller, The Observer
This fascinating book is not a footnote to Soviet history: it is Soviet history, one of the millions of private tales of evil and astonishing endurance that make up the awful whole.

Sunday Times
Most writers would do something quite unspeakable to inherit the kind of material Owen Matthews has here. But there is no begrudging him. In Stalin's Children he has written a superb chronicle of the 20th-century Soviet Union, seen through the eyes of his parents and grandparents: a Russian Wild Swans... Some of the stories will stay with me forever.

Reconstruction of one's parents' love story is rare enough undertaking; success to this extent puts Owen Matthews's family biography into a special category. Remarkable... not only does Owen Matthews write with extraordinary vividness... but his technique is more that of a novelist than a journalist - and a master craftsman at that.

Few books say so much about Russia then and now, and its effect on those it touches.

Literary Review
This is one of the most fascinating family memoirs of recent times. Few people could write as Owen Matthews does about his parents' tormented love life and his maternal grandparents' horrific fate with such a blend of affection and critical but unobtrusive objectivity. matthews_owen

About the Author

Owen Matthews was born in London and spent part of his childhood in America. He studied modern history at Oxford University before beginning his career as a journalist in Bosnia. In 1995 he accepted a job at the Moscow Times, a daily English-language newspaper, and soon thereafter discovered his grandfather's file. In 1997 he became a correspondent at Newsweek magazine in Moscow, where he covered the second Chechen war. He was one of the first journalists to witness the start of U.S. bombing in the Panshir Valley in Afghanistan after 9/11, and covered the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is currently Newsweek's bureau chief in Moscow, where he lives with his wife and two children. photo: Rena Effendi.

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Ross Raisin, God's Own Country

'gods_own_countryRamblers. Daft sods in pink and green hats. It wasn't even cold. They moved down the field swing-swaying like a line of drunks, addled with the air and the land, and the smell of manure' This is the voice of our narrator, Sam Marsdyke, the teenage son of a farmer up on the Yorkshire Moors. He spends his days working the sheep, mending fences, trying to dodge the eye of his brutal, silent father, and most of all, watching the transformation of the farms and villages around him. From the top of the moors he watches the goofy ramblers and the earnest 'towns', the families from York, who are feverishly buying up the farmhouses left empty by bankrupt farmers. And as he watches, one young daughter of a new family catches his eye. As he falls for the young, sophisticated girl from London, she begins to see him as a means to escape. She wants to rebel against her parents and he wants to fulfil the fantasy he harbours about her and so they run away together. But this journey across the moors will take a terrifying menacing turn which, for him, will prove his terrible undoing. Sam Marsdyke is an unforgettable character at the heart of this extraordinary novel, a novel that is hugely funny, darkly menacing and will resonate long after you have finished the last page.

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Review comments... Colm Tόibín 'A compelling, disturbing and often very funny novel'... J.M. Coetzee Chilling in its effect and convincing in its execution.... Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End Utterly frightening and electrifying at once ...The Sunday Times Mature, taut and beautifully written ...Book Description
An extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Butcher Boy ..Guardian
'Compelling, remarkable, entirely original. Marsdyke is like no other character in contemporary fiction. Both very funny and very disturbing' ..Telegraph
'Marsdyke's paranoid world is utterly compelling. A wonderfully unique novel' Financial Times 'A few pages with Marsdyke are unforgettable. Rare are the writers who can create such a funny yet terrifying narrator' Independent 'Bleak and beautiful ... A richly distinctive narrative voice' Observer 'Controlled, mature and compelling, RAISIN_ROSSthis is a masterful debut'

About the Author
Ross Raisin was born in Yorkshire and lives in London. He is twenty-seven years old. Before university he spent time working in the hotel trade, working in hotels in France and Ireland. When he graduated, he began working in a wine bar in London, eventually becoming co-manager. Ross has continued to work as a waiter while writing the novel, and still does so now as he begins his second, a novel about a Glaswegian ex-shipyard worker, whose life unravels after the death of his wife.

Ross Raisin on BookAwardTV (click On Demand Guardian First Novel)

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a_fraction_of_teh_wholeSteve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole

Meet the Deans: the most crazily memorable literary family for years, from an outstanding debut novelist

Martin Dean spent his entire life analyzing absolutely everything; from the benefits of suicide to the virtues of strip clubs; and passing on his self-taught knowledge to his son, Jasper. But now that his father's dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the man who raised him in intellectual captivity, and the irony is this: theirs was a great adventure. As he recollects the extraordinary events that led to his father's demise, toltz_steveJasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries – about his infamous criminal uncle, his mysteriously absent mother, and Martin's constant battle to leave his mark on the world. From the Australian bush to the cafes of Paris; from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition, this is an unforgettable, rollicking and deeply moving family story.

About the Author
Steve Toltz was born in Sydney. After graduating from Newcastle University in 1994, he has lived in Sydney, Montreal, Vancouver, Barcelona and Paris, working primarily as a screenwriter and freelance writer, but also doing stints as both a private investigator and an English teacher. A Fraction of the Whole is his first book.

Steve Toltzon BookAwardTV (click On Demand Guardian First Novel)

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Mohammed Hanif, A Case of Exploding Mangoes

a-case_of_exploding_mangoesThere is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. "A Case of Exploding Mangoes" is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of: mechanical failure; human error; the CIA's impatience; a blind woman's curse; generals not happy with their pension plans; the mango season Or could it be your narrator, Ali Shigri? Here are the facts such as: a military dictator reads the Quran every morning as if it was his daily horoscope; under officer Ali Shigri carries a deadly message on the tip of his sword; his friend Obaid answers all life's questions with a splash of eau de cologne and a quote from Rilke; and a crow has crossed the Pakistani border illegally.As young Shigri moves from a mosque hall to his military barracks before ending up in a Mughal dungeon, there are questions that haunt him: What does it mean to betray someone and still love them? How many names does Allah really have? Who killed his father, Colonel Shigri? Who will kill his killers? And where the hell has Obaid disappeared to? Teasing, provocative, and very funny, Mohhanif_mohammedammed Hanif's debut novel takes one of the subcontinent's enduring mysteries and out if it spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar's dream.

About the Author

Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan, in 1965. He graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as Pilot Officer, but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He has written plays for the stage and BBC radio, and his film 'The Long Night' has been shown at film festivals around the world. He is a graduate of UEA's creative writing programme. He is currently head of the BBC's Urdu Service and lives in London.

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2008 Guardian First BookLonglist

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif (Jonathan Cape)
Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia (John Murray)
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (Hamish Hamilton)
God’s own Country by Ross Raisin (Viking)
Me Cheeta: The Autobiography (Fourth Estate)
The Outcast by Sadie Jones (Chatto & Windus)
The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross (Fourth Estate)
Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Abacus)
Stalin’s Children by Owen Matthews (Bloomsbury)
Sunday at the Skin Launderette by Kathryn Simmonds (Seren Books

Winners 1999 to 2007

2007 Winner Dinaw Mengestu ( left), Children of the Revolution

Tahmima Anam, A Golden Age
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City
Rosemary Hill, God's Architect
Catherine O'Flynn, What Was Lost

2006 Winner Yiyun Li, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

o Lorraine Adams, Harbor
o Clare Allan, Poppy Shakespeare
o Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men
o Carrie Tiffany, Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living

2005 Winner Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

o Reza Aslan, No god but God
o Richard Benson, The Farm
o Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
o Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Sightseeing

2004 Winner Armand Marie Leroi, Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of Human Body

o Matthew Hollis, Ground Water (Bloodaxe)
o David Bezmozgis Natasha and Other Stories (Cape)
o Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Bloomsbury)
o Rory Stewart The Places in Between, by (Picador)

2003 Winner Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind


* Monica Ali,Brick Lane
* DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little
* Paul Broks, Into the Silent Land
* Anna Funder, Stasiland

2002 Winner Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

Alexandra Fuller, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
o Hari Kunzru, The Impressionist
o Oliver Morton, Mapping Mars
o Sandra Newman, The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done

2001 Winner Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, graphic novel

Miranda Carter, Anthony Blunt: His Lives biography
David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Wittgenstein's Poker, non-fiction
Glen David Gold, Carter Beats The Devil, fiction
Rachel Seiffert, The Dark Room, fiction

2000 Winner Zadie Smith, White Teeth


House of Leaves, Mark Z Danielewski (novel)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (memoir)
No Logo by Naomi Klein (Politics)
Catfish and Mandala: a Vietnamese Odyssey by Andrew Pham (Travelogue)

1999 Winner Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

Boxy an Star by Daren King (f)
Ghostwritten (f short stories)
The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha.
No Place Like Home Gary Younge (nf memoir)
Bathurst's Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst (nf autobigraphy)

Guardian Fiction Prize winners- 1965- 1998

1965 Clive Barry, Crumb Borne
1966 Archie Hind, The Dear Green Place
1967 Eva Figes, Winter Journey
1968 P. J. Kavanagh, A Song and a Dance
1969 Maurice Leitch, Poor Lazarus
1970 Margaret Blount, When Did You Last See your Father?
1971 Thomas Kilroy, The Big Chapel
1972 John Berger, G
1973 Peter Redgrove, In the Country of the Skin
1974 Beryl Bainbridge, The Bottle Factory Outing
1975 Sylvia Clayton, Friends and Romans
1976 Robert Nye, Falstaff
1977 Michael Moorcock, The Condition of Muzak
1978 Neil Jordan, Night in Tunisia
1979 Dambudzo Marechera, The House of Hunger
1980 J. L. Carr, A Month in the Country
1981 John Banville, Kepler
1982 Glyn Hughes, Where I Used to Play on the Green
1983 Graham Swift, Waterland
1984 J. G. Ballard, Empire of the Sun
1985 Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor
1986 Jim Crace, Continent
1987 Peter Benson, The Levels
1988 Lucy Ellmann, Sweet Desserts
1989 Carol Lake, Rosehill: Portrait from a Midlands City
1990 Pauline Melville, Shape-Shifter
1991 Alan Judd, The Devil's Own Work
1992 Alasdair Gray, Poor Things
1993 Pat Barker, The Eye in the Door
1994 Candia McWilliam, Debatable Land
1995 James Buchan, Heart's Journey in Winter
1996 Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark
1997 Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces
1998 Jackie Kay, Trumpet

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