Alice Winn is the winner of this year’s Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, the Guardian reports.
Winn took home the award for In Memoriam, her novel published by Alfred A. Knopf in March. The book follows two young English men, both in love with each other, who enlist to fight in World War I. In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus praised the novel as “a powerful, deeply imagined debut.”
Bea Carvalho, the head of books for the U.K. bookseller Waterstones, which sponsors the prize, said in a statement, “We were all blown away by Alice’s powerful and emotive storytelling, and intimate command of her epic historical canvas: it is a truly stunning feat of fiction which manages to be at once desperately heart-shattering and full of hope, and comfortingly classic yet daringly original.”
Winn’s book beat out five other books for the award: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Chain-Gang All-Stars, Jacqueline Crooks’ Fire Rush, Michael Magee’s Close to Home, Cecile Pin’s Wandering Souls, and Colin Walsh’s Kala.
This is the second year for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, which comes with a cash award of about $6,300. Last year’s winner was Tess Gunty for The Rabbit Hutch, which also won the National Book Award for fiction.
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.