• News
Back

The 2016 Shadow Panel of bookbloggers have started to share their thoughts about this year’s shortlist.  Read what they have to say about Max Porters’s Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

“So to put it simply, I think that Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a rather exceptional book. It is one which puts you through the ringer, leaving you distraught and then hopeful. It is the sort of book you rush through once and then have to go back through and read slowly taking all the intricacies in and then pondering over it all afterwards. It resonated with me and affected me, which is all I ever hope for from a book – one of my books of the year.” Simon Savidge, Savidge Reads

“While it initially starts off full of clichés (the seven phases of grief, the hot food coming from neighbours and all the usual things that happen to the family left behind when someone dies), it then morphs into something wholly original, full of rich vivid imagery and rhetorical effects.  Having taken it on face value and seen it as a story about unexpected loss, I thought it was an interesting, hypnotic read (it feels very much like poetry in places). It was occasionally dark and terrifying but also grimly funny.” Kim Forrester, Reading Matters

“This book requires all your attention. It’s incredibly easy, even with context behind you, to lose your way and it can take work to find yourself again. This is where Porter’s leaving of titbits comes in handy, most noticeably around the middle where comprehension questions, of the English Literature lesson type, are added as part of the narrative.  So Grief Is The Thing With Feathers is hard work but can be very rewarding. But it is also a very unusual beast and fits a specific, niche, category. You have to be happy with the very experimental style. A difficult book to recommend outright, Porter’s début will intrigue most, delight many, and confuse just as many too and your experience of it won’t necessarily lie in how much you do or don’t know of Porter’s literary interests.”  Charlie Place, The Wormhole

“Its genre isn’t important because what “Grief is the Thing with Feathers” does is bluntly convey the fact of profound loss and the complicated ways people react to that loss.  What’s so powerful about this book is the way Porter gives the reader the merest outline of these characters lives, yet I was able to experience and relate to their loss completely. He does this with pointed details of smells or memories or bits of dialogue which draw you into the moment and the feeling.” Eric Karl Andersen, Lonesome Reader

“Reviewers seem to have struggled with how to describe the form of the book; is it prose? Is it poetry? Is it a prose poem? I think that the form Porter’s chosen to take is one that suits the subject matter. Grief is impossible to define accurately. It ebbs and flows, visiting each of us differently. Porter’s words appear to be divided into phrases, sentences and paragraphs as he felt they should be as opposed to him attempting to force them into a standard or accepted format. That and the language he uses – which moves between Standard English and invented words – helps to portray a family out of sorts and an animal from literature which may be a figment of the father’s imagination.  Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is extraordinary for several reasons: the form and language; the vivid imagery; the integration of Hughes’ Crow (although you don’t need to know Crow in order to appreciate this work); the depiction of grief. Max Porter’s a very exciting young writer indeed.” Naomi Frisby, The Writes of Woman

You can follow along with the Shadow Panel‘s thoughts on twitter with #YoungWriterAwardShadow

Young Writer Award @YoungWriterYear

Follow us on twitter. The Sunday Times / Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, in association with the University of Warwick is a prize of £5,000 for a writer under 35.