Up-and-coming YA author Sarah Govett has grabbed the 2018 Trinity Schools Book Award (TSBA) for the first novel in her critically acclaimed trilogy, The Territory. The Award was meant to be handed to her at the Ceremony at Emanuel School, but this had to be cancelled due to the poor weather conditions.
The Territory, the first in Govett’s dystopian series published by Cardiff-based Firefly Press, beat strong contenders including The Weight of Water (Sarah Crossan), Welcome to Nowhere (Elizabeth Laird) and Railhead (Philip Reeve) to claim the top prize.
Govett said: ‘I’m very honoured to have been chosen for the TSBA amongst such brilliant authors and thrilled that my writing resonates with my readers. I wanted to tell the story of The Territory to highlight the environmental and socio-economic challenges that our teens are likely to face in the future, so I’m delighted that the series is gaining recognition.’
Now in its fourth year, the TSBA was launched in 2014 by librarians from 22 independent senior schools in the Trinity group, with an aim to celebrate quality writing in both new and older fiction. The TSBA Committee determines a theme each year and shortlists books nominated by librarians in the Trinity group. The theme for the 2017-18 TSBA was ‘A New World’ and this year 24 schools signed up to take part, including nine from outside the Trinity group.
Tony Jones, Librarian at Emanuel School and TSBA Committee member, said: ‘We congratulate Sarah Govett on the achievement. Given the current political climate it is not surprising that The Territory, a dystopian thriller, clearly resonated with our students who chose it as their winner. Sarah’s vision of a future in which most of the country is under water is a powerful call to arms to tackle climate change. The brutal, unfair education system takes the intensity of exam pressure to terrifying new levels; this is a world where creativity is not valued, where failure of the dreaded TAA at age 15 results in almost-certain death.’
Secondary school children between the ages of 11 and 14 read the nominated books through the autumn and spring terms and cast their votes in February to determine the winner. Student competitions also run alongside the main book awards for the best book reviews and best creative response to a book, which included original animations, paintings, poetry, sculpture and models. The winners were announced on the blog instead of the Ceremony this year. The Ceremony is a celebration of the shortlisted books, as well as the students’ work, attended by the authors and student groups from the participating schools and was sadly missed this year.
Jones continued: ‘With more than 20 schools taking part this year, the TSBA is helping to nurture the next generation of book lovers and offers vital space for young people to celebrate and engage with their reading, beyond the demands of the curriculum.’
Hailed by a Guardian’s children’s book site critic as ‘the 1984 of our time’, The Territory was shortlisted in the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2014 and named one of The Telegraph’s Best YA Novels of 2015. The Territory and the sequel Escape (2016) are both recommended Book Trust reads. The TSBA accolade follows Govett’s win of the Gateshead Book Award in January 2017.
The much-anticipated finale in The Territory trilogy, Truth, is published on 29 March.