We were thrilled to visit Weston Super Mare on Remembrance weekend, to attend the prize giving for the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award. Our author, Saviour Pirotta was shortlisted for his book THE MARK OF THE CYCLOPS in the fiction category, so we packed a bottle of champagne just in case.
It was an afternoon filled with books, and lovers of books, both creators and readers. We all ate a lot of cake, then to the awards, and the announcement of the winners! MARK OF THE CYLOPS won in the Fiction category! Huge congratulations to Saviour Pirotta, and to Freya Hartas, who illustrated it. Congratulations also, to Hannah Rolls of Bloomsbury Education, who commissioned not only this book, but also the winner of the Poetry category, APES TO ZEBRAS by three poets, Liz Brownlea, Sue Hardy Dawson and Roger Stevens.
Now where’s that bottle of champagne?
Huge congratulations to Saviour Pirotta for winning the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award for fiction, with MARK OF THE CYCLOPS! It was a fun and literary occasion, with plenty of cake, lots of books, and the wonderful teachers and librarians of North Somerset, and it was great to meet the talented authors as well.
MARK OF THE CYCLOPS is published by Bloomsbury Education, who also had another winner in the awards: APES TO ZEBRAS by three poets: Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. Congratulations to them and to the Bloomsbury team too.
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The main character, Lee Habens is an outsider, never really fitting in, and always feeling like an interloper in her own life. The time comes when things have to change, and she decides to take radical action so that she can truly be herself, and claim her rightful place in society. For Lee, this means transforming her body, to become the woman she has always been on the inside.
The novel is set in the 1980s, so for me, it was great to go back to the atmosphere of those days – London’s colourful clubbing scene and the flamboyance of being young in the eighties. But gender re-assignment was hardly known in those days, so for Lee, there was a lot of research in the library, followed by the excitement of discovering that having a sex change was even a thing. Not much was known about the science or the medicine behind it, so in the book, the GP learns alongside her patient, as they investigate and start the hormone treatment and everything necessary for Lee to build a new life.
But the book is about so much more than this, it’s also about friendship, and
The book is a fascinating insight into what it’s like to make this incredible journey from one gender to another. We see Lee’s wonder at her changing body, alongside her dilemmas about secrecy and her acceptance by other people. Her emotions are often all over the place, but whatever happens, Lee remains resolute, in her quest for her real self.
But INTERLOPER is so much more than a book about changing gender. It’s also about the power of friendship and love, as well as the pain of being an outsider; it’s about identity and re-invention, and it’s about living in London in the 1980s.
The book is very definitely fiction, but it’s written by an author with first hand experience of what the main character goes through. Kim Erin Cowley is someone who has been through a lot in order to “resolve the conflict at the heart of my very existence”.