OVERALL WINNER / FICTION DEBUT OF THE YEAR
The judges for this year’s Fiction: Début Book of the Year praised both the writing and the publishing of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and said the combination made it a clear winner. The novel was “absolutely hilarious”, “literary and commercial” and struck an “amazing balance between light and dark”, while the campaign to promote it was “beautifully done”, they said.
Winner: Readers' Choice Award
Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said: “From first time authors to literary giants, this year’s Books Are My Bag Readers Awards winners give an insight into bookseller’s and the public’s top books of the year. It’s hugely exciting to see such a large proportion of new writers on the list, showing just how much brilliant new writing talent readers have to enjoy.”
The human need for connection, initially scorned by Eleanor, is this heart-rending novel’s central theme. Eleanor Oliphant is most definitely not completely fine, but she is one of the most unusual and thought-provoking heroines of recent contemporary fiction.
It is very well done indeed. Eleanor, improbable in the early chapters, is made completely convincing. But what is remarkable is the emphasis Honeyman places on the importance of kindness, something met more often in real life than in novels... This is an uncommonly intelligent and sympathetic novel.
It feels like a cross between RJ Palacio’s Wonder and Brian Moore’s Judith Hearne, but funnier. Characters aren’t goodies, baddies or plot devices, they just feel like people. The overwhelming emotion is kindness. If you don’t cry the first time Eleanor goes to a hair salon and thanks the blowsy Laura for “making her shiny”, you haven’t a heart. This is a narrative full of quiet warmth and deep and unspoken sadness. It makes you want to throw a party and invite everyone you know and give them a hug, even that person at work everyone thinks is a bit weird.