A graduate of the St Andrews M.Litt in Creative Writing has won a place on this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist with her second novel, The Electric Michelangelo.
Born in 1974 in Cumbria, Sarah Hall has roared onto the literary scene in the last few years with two quirky and engaging novels written in a prose style that edges toward poetry.
Her first book, Haweswater (Faber, 2002), set amongst the Westmoreland hill farming community, won the Commonwealth Writers First Book Award.
The Electric Michelangelo probes the detail of another undervalued industry: that of the tattoo artist. It tells the story of Cy Parks, a man whose gift at drawing with needle on skin takes him from the seaside of Morecambe to that of Coney Island and a bittersweet love affair with Grace, a bareback rider and tightrope walker. The work of the tattooist becomes a metaphor for the pain and isolation mingled with pleasure and community in the life of the artist.
Hall, a 1997 graduate who visited St Andrews earlier this year to read from her new work, paid tribute to the encouragement of Professor Douglas Dunn, who founded the M. Litt in Creative Writing, the first of its kind in Scotland, and who has mentored many aspiring writers of fiction and poetry. Hall has maintained links with the University and will be contributing a new short story to the forthcoming anthology The Book of St Andrews.
Head of the University’s School of English Professor Robert Crawford said, “We are all delighted that the Booker judges appreciated The Electric Michelangelo. For a relatively young writer to be nominated for such a prestigious award is a tremendous achievement. The Electric Michelangelo is a great read, and I hope that the Booker shortlist will bring it to the attention of a great many readers. I’m sure that Sarah’s success will also inspire students of creative writing here in the future; it shows what is possible given talent and determination”.
Sarah Hall’s The Electric Michelangelo shares a place on the Man Booker Prize shortlist with Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Colm Tibn’s The Master, and Gerard Woodward’s Ill Go to Bed at Noon. The winner of the 50,000 prize will be announced on 19 October 2004.
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