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And Other Stories Sammy Wright wins 2020 Northern Book Prize for debut novel Fit

Novel told "with the intensity and savagery of fairytales" chosen from almost 150 manuscripts.

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Sammy Wright. Photo by Clare Bowes.

The winner of the third annual Northern Book Prize has been revealed by Sheffield-based publisher And Other Stories.

Teacher and short story writer Sammy Wright has won the award for his debut novel, Fit, which follows the life of Rose as she leaves her foster home to begin a new life as a model in London.

The novel is also one of contrasts, exploring "the divide between the North and South, the elite and disenfranchised and what we say and how we actually live," And Other Stories says.

Author says his motivation partially came from his own personal experiences growing up in Edinburgh, moving to London for 12 years and eventually settling in Newcastle, where he is now based.

"In 20 years of teaching I've always wanted to express something of what I have seen in a way which captures the intensity and nuance of young people's lives. In recent years, that has been matched by a need to show the psychological costs of the divisions in our society," Wright said.

Told "with the intensity and savagery of fairytales", the judges chose the winning title unanimously out of almost 150 manuscript entries.

The judging panel consisted of authors Sanjeev Sahota, Daniel Trilling and Amy Arnold - who won the prize in its inaugural year for her novel Slip of a Fish - as well as Tara Tobler, senior editor at And Other Stories.

Commenting on what impressed them the most about Fit, the panel said: "The sheer memorability of the thing: its portrait of teenage life and foster care in a marginalised Northern town remained with us long after we'd read it."

Wright will receive £5,000 and a contract with And Other Stories which includes publication, distribution and representation, as well as editorial and career support.

The Northern Book Prize was founded in October 2017 to mark the publisher's move to Sheffield and celebrate the North's wealth of literary talent.

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