Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter is today, Saturday 14 May, named as the winner of the 10th International Dylan Thomas Prize, in partnership with Swansea University.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers, published by Faber & Faber, is the debut book – part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief – by Max Porter, a senior editor at Granta and Portobello Books.
Chair of judges Professor Dai Smith (Raymond Williams Research Chair in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University) said:
“Max Porter, the judges felt, takes the common place of grief, the pall of death, the loss of loved ones, the things that we will all experience and transforms the ordinary through an extraordinary feat of imaginative prose, but prose that slips in to poetry and out again. The way it plays with the archetypal figure of Ted Hughes’ Crow is both astonishing and beguiling. It is funny, it is deeply moving and it is a book that the judges are proud to see as the winner of the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize, in partnership with Swansea University.”
Inspired by Crow, the collection of poems by Ted Hughes, Grief is the Thing with Feathers is the story of two young boys who face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss gives way to memories, the little unit of three starts to heal.
The £30,000 prize was presented to Max Porter at a gala ceremony in Swansea University’s Great Hall on its new Bay Campus.