The inaugural 9th Art Awards at the Edinburgh Book Festival’s Stripped event were announced last night, with Stephen Collins’ excellent ‘The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil‘ beating out considerable competition from the other books on the shortlist:
Gigantic Beard follows the life of ordinary Dave, who likes nothing more than a night in sketching the everyday life passing by in boring monotony and predictable order outside his window. He lives in a world of order, on the perfectly shaped island of Here, where everyone looks inwards, always the same, monotony and order leading to a life of boredom and conformity. Until the beard comes along. The evil beard.
The book is both funny and dark, covering important and very apposite themes of conformity and societal control and what it means to that society and to the individual to attempt to live outside the norm. It’s also beautifully drawn, a lovely thing, and definitely a worthy winner.
That shortlist in full:
Building Stories – Chris Ware (Jonathan Cape)
Days of the Bagnold Summer – Joff Winterhart (Jonathan Cape)
The Gigantic Beard that was Evil – Stephen Collins (Jonathan Cape)
Naming Monsters – Hannah Eaton (Myriad Editions)
The Nao of Brown – Glyn Dillon (SelfMadeHero)
Great shortlist, and congratulations to Stephen Collins for the much deserved win.
The dominance of Cape titles in that shortlist could look like bias on first impressions, but I don’t think so. It’s far more likely a result of the 9th Art Award relying on publishers submitting works for consideration, and Cape’s big book publisher PR dept being very good at getting the word out on their books. What is a little concerning is that the judging panel only had 50 books submitted. Hopefully, with the success of the awards, next year will see more publishers submitting.
However, none of that takes anything away from Stephen Collins’ win, and here’s a few pages from Gigantic Beard to emphasise just how good it is…