Note: I first wrote this for Writers' Centre Norwich blog but am also posting it here since it is such a long time since I updated!
I came to East Anglia from London eight years ago to go to university. I don’t know why I chose Norwich specifically, even at the time it wasn’t something I could rationalise, just a deep seated feeling that this was the place for me. And I was right. There is an innate quality to life here which defies easy explanation.
Perhaps that is why writing is so prominent in this region: it helps us understand things which cannot be easily understood. We have a fantastically vibrant literary scene here that warrants honouring from time to time.
All of this is a long and rather self-obsessed way of introducing the EDP-Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards that took place last week. Set up in 2008 to celebrate the best in new East Anglian writing, this year saw Orange Prize winning author Rose Tremain presenting the awards to the six lucky category winners, as well as the overall winner, Matthew Rice for Building Norfolk . Special WCN congratulations go to Tim Clare who scooped the Biography award for We Can’t All Be Astronauts, a book about having one last shot at your dreams. Tim was one of the 2008/9 Escalator winners and Astronauts partly focuses on the journey he took during that programme, touring the country and visiting open mic nights. It is always great to see Escalatees go on to bigger and better things.
On a more general note, what was wonderful about all the shortlisted books was that they seemed to capture something of the experience of life in this region: from the architecture of Norfolk; the amazing story of Duleep Sing, the Indian Maharajah who made his home in Elvedon; to the Suffolk artists such as Constable and Gainsborough whose work has become synonymous with our landscape.
Sitting there, what I realised above all else was just how little I still know about this region, and how much I would like to know. I am going to go away and read more about the place I live and the people who have made it what it is.
Until next time...