The Shock of the Fall – the story of two brothers dealing with schizophrenia by first time author and mental health nurse Nathan Filer has edged past some of the established names in modern day storytelling to win the 2013 Costa Book of the Year – one of UK’s most prestigious literary prizes.
Announced on Tuesday, Filer won against some well known writers including Kate Atkinson who was the bookmaker’s favourite for Life After Life. Filer (32) is a writer and lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa University. He is a qualified mental health nurse and for many years worked for the mental health service in Bristol where he still lives. The Shock of the Fall was subject to an eleven-way auction and bought by HarperCollins for a substantial six figure sum.
Filer said, “I wrote this book because I want to share it, I wasn’t writing it for myself. I always wanted people to read it and winning this means more and more people will read it so I’m absolutely delighted by that.” Filer beat biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett for The Pike, poet Michael Symmons Roberts for Drysalter and author and political cartoonist Chris Riddell for Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse to win the prize and a cheque for £30,000. Rose Tremain CBE, chair of the final judges, said, “This book stood out in a very good list.
The voice in which the author has chosen to tell his story is perfectly aligned with the subject matter and was very well sustained to the end.” She added, “The book is exceptionally moving without being sentimental – we’re very much hoping there will be more from this writer.” The Shock of the Fall tells the story of Matthew and Simon, two brothers who are separated yet united by a tragic accident. Exploring themes of loss, grief and mental illness, the novel transports the reader directly into the mind of Matthew and his slow descent into madness as he confronts his role in the childhood death of his older brother 10 years ago.