Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Duncan Fallowell wins UK's only literary prize for memoir

Duncan Fallowell
Belatedly, I must congratulate long-time Arcatiste Duncan Fallowell on winning the PEN/Ackerley Prize for Memoir (2012) for his dazzling How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits. Madame Arcati was of course the first to review this title - a critique which arose from my readerly self-lubrication.

Duncan won against stiff competition - Brian Sewell may have been regarded as the favourite. Fortunately, the judges yielded to exquisite temptation and let loose the feral spirit that abhors genre, genre and genre. How to Disappear is hard to categorise: memoir of a sort, a travel book to some extent, a tour of forgotten weirdos, among whom Evelyn Waugh's ex-boyfriend (RIP). It is a work of wisdom (ie accumulated tricks) and of restrained debauchery - and of marathon detective work. It features a peculiar paranormal happening - conceivably.

Ditto Press must also be congratulated for producing a book that looks like it wants to be treasured and appreciated as art in its own right.

The PEN/Ackerley is Britain's only literary prize dedicated to memoir and autobiography. A number of reputable publishers rejected the book before new indy house Ditto took it on. Youth may not assure us a virile publishing future unafraid of literature, but it helps. As DF said in his acceptance speech, of a rejecting publisher who wondered when Duncan would write his 'big' book: 'All my books are big. it's the publishers that got small.'



Anonymous said...

Gosh!!! You're back! He's back! They're all back! OH NO!!!

NLP said...

Are you really back Arcati? I'm surprised you didn't post this story when it first broke and assumed you had retired for good. But I see you're in fine form, and anyone who can still self-lubricate is assured a long future.

My congratulations to Duncan. I shall be buying the book.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news!

Anonymous said...

I have read How To Disappear and can confirm it is fantastic. My only surprise is that it has not won more awards - perhaps it will.