A gender-exploring science fiction award is presented to Patrick Ness for The Knife of Never Letting Go and Nisi Shawl for Filter House.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Filter House by Nisi Shawl
The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council (otherwiseaward.org) is pleased to announce that the 2008 Tiptree Award has two winners: Patrick Ness’s young adult novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go (Walker 2008) and Nisi Shawl’s short story collection, Filter House (Aqueduct Press, 2008).
The Tiptree Award will be celebrated on Memorial Day weekend at WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin. Each winner will receive $1000 in prize money, an original artwork created specifically for the winning novel or story, and (as always) chocolate.
A panel of five jurors selects the Tiptree Award winners and compiles an Honor List of other works that they find interesting, relevant to the award, and worthy of note. The 2008 jurors were Gavin J. Grant (chair), K. Tempest Bradford, Leslie Howle, Roz Kaveney, and Catherynne M. Valente.
The Knife of Never Letting Go begins with a boy growing up in village way off the grid. Jury chair Gavin J. Grant explains, “All the villagers can hear one another’s thoughts (their “noise”) and all the villagers are men. The boy has never seen a woman or girl so when he meets one his world is infinitely expanded as he discovers the complications of gender relations. As he travels in this newly bi-gendered world, he also has to work out the definition of becoming and being a man.”
Juror Leslie Howle praises Ness’s skills as a writer: “Ness is a craftsman, plain and simple. The language, pacing, complications, plot this story has all of the elements that raise the writing to something well beyond good. Some critics call it brilliant. It’s a page-turner, and the story continues to resonate well after reading it. It reminds me of the kind of classic SF I loved when I was new to the genre.”
In addition to the Tiptree Award, The Knife of Never Letting Go also won the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize (U.K.), which celebrates contemporary fiction for teenagers, and the Guardian Children? Fiction Prize.
Publishers Weekly, which selected Filter House as one of the best books of 2008, described it as an “exquisitely rendered debut collection” that “ranges into the past and future to explore identity and belief in a dazzling variety of settings.” Tiptree jurors spotlight Shawl’s willingness to challenge the reader with her exploration of gender roles.
Juror K. Tempest Bradford writes, “The stories in Filter House refuse to allow the reader the comfort of assuming that the men and women will act according to the assumptions mainstream readers/society/culture puts on them.”
Juror Catherynne M. Valente notes that most of Shawl’s protagonists in this collection are young women coming to terms with womanhood and what that means “in terms of their culture, magic (almost always tribal, nuts and bolts, African-based magical systems, which is fascinating in itself), [and] technology.” In her comments, Valente points out some elements of stories that made this collection particularly appropriate for the Tiptree Award: “‘At the Huts of Ajala’ struck me deeply as a critique of beauty and coming of age rituals. The final story, ‘The Beads of Ku,’ deals with marriage and motherhood and death. ‘Shiomah’s Land’ deals with the sexuality of a godlike race, and a young woman’s liberation from it. ‘Wallamellon’ is a heartbreaking story about the Blue Lady, the folkloric figure invented by Florida orphans, and a young girl pursuing the Blue Lady straight into a kind of urban priestess-hood.”
The Tiptree Award Honor List is a strong part of the award? identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list for the rest of the year. This year’s Honor List is:
- Christopher Barzak, The Love We Share Without Knowing (Bantam, 2008)
- Jenny Davidson, The Explosionist (HarperTeen, 2008)
- Gregory Frost, Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet: A Shadowbridge Novel (both published by Del Rey, 2008)
- Alison Goodman, Two Pearls of Wisdom (HarperCollins Australia 2008), published in the United States as Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Viking 2008), also Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye in the United Kingdom
- John Kessel, Pride or Prometheus (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 2008)
- Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels (Knopf, 2008)
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Lavinia (Harcourt)
- John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In (Quercus (UK) 2007), original Swedish title Låt den rätte komma in (2004), first published in English as Let Me In, St. Martin’s Press (2007), Translated by Ebba Segerberg)
- Paul Park, A Princess of Roumania (Tor, 2005), The Tourmaline (Tor, 2006), The White Tyger (Tor, 2007), The Hidden World (Tor, 2008)
- Ekaterina Sedia, The Alchemy of Stone (Prime Books)
- Ali Smith, Girl Meets Boy (Canongate U.S., 2007)
- Ysabeau S. Wilce, Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) (Harcourt, 2008)
Reading for the 2009 Tiptree Award will soon begin. As always, the Tiptree Award invites everyone to recommend works for the award. Please submit recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.