David Swann’s NIF, ‘Season of Bright Sorrow’ is Rubery Award Book of the Year 2023

David Swann won first prize in our 2021 Novella in Flash Award, judged by Michella Elvy with Season of Bright Sorrow. We are thrilled that this wonderful novella in flash, published by adhocfiction.com and also available on Amazon worldwide, has won Book of the Year 2023 in the Rubery Award. Huge congratulations. It is a wonderful achievment.
It’s a brilliant book and we’ve quoted what the judges said about it below. David won £2000 which he has shared with Sam Hubbard the marvellous illustrator of the novella.

Dave received a plaque from the Rubery Award when he returned from holiday and here he is on his allotment with it and a sunflower.

This is a lovely novella-in-flashes which really gets the most out of the form. It was entered as a cross-over between Fiction and Young Adult, and could easily be read and enjoyed by both sets of readers. Many of the flashes would work as discrete pieces, but they are strengthened by a narrative integrity that attests to Swann’s skill as a short-form writer. Together they build into a touching tale of a young girl trying to make sense of the world. His account of the down-at-heel coastal town where she resides with her alcoholic mother is superb: ‘it punches you in the face. All that space and air.’ Lana’s limited perspective is a source of much gentle humour, but also tension as we watch her struggle with home life, school, and the bleak landscape of the bay, which almost becomes a character itself. Swann possesses an ability to create living, breathing people out of very few words, a skill that many writers would envy: the landlord, who has a ‘shifty-looking stoop’, with his fixation on power-points: Lana’s school friend, Archie, with his tendency to talk ‘mince’; and of course Lana herself, who lies at the emotional heart of the book. There is a strong sense of her loneliness and fear which pervades the book, as she negotiates her way through hardship, deprivation and uncertainty, but she still manage to produce witheringly ironic exchanges with Archie. She tells her sympathetic teacher that she likes the beach and the sea. “Then you’re in the right place, lass.” In many ways, this sums up the deceptively simple and profoundly complex themes of the book. ​

You can also read more in our description of the book and its illustrations And there are further posts by Dave with exercises based on the structures of the flashes in the book.

Dave also won runner up prize in our 2022 Novella in Flash Award, also judged by Michelle Elvy, with another excellent novella, The Twisted Wheel. This novella was published by Ad Hoc Fiction, earlier this year. Brilliant cover illustration again by Sam Hubbard.

STOP PRESS! If you want to enter our yearly Novella in Flash Award, we have opened submissions for it again. A small window for entries this year (deadline 30th September) because of a tight book publishing schedule at Ad Hoc Fiction next year. Results announced early Jan 2024. Judge John Brantingham who also judged the 2023 contest.

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