Yesterday I purchased a copy of The Shock of the Fall, the debut novel of former mental health nurse Nathan Filer. I was aware of the book being published last year but wasn’t sure whether it was something I would enjoy. However the praise heaped upon it by readers, critics and the judges of the Costa Book Awards has made me have a rethink, particularly after he won the Book of the Year title at a ceremony last night.
Filer was inspired to write his book by his nursing work – it took him 10 years to write, and it tells the story of “two brothers who are separated yet united by a tragic accident.” As the first debut novel to win the overall prize since 2006, with Chair of judges, novelist Rose Tremain, proclaiming the book “astonishing”, in a decision that is likely to inspire would-be writers across the country.
There was much talk about the domination of female writers at recent prize givings, with Kate Atkinson being the bookies favourite to win the 2013 award. But Filer’s triumph has put paid to that, for now at least.