This morning Waterstones have named La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust series, as their Book of the Year.
Published by Penguin Random House Children's and David Fickling Books, the title sees Philip return to the world of His Dark Materials, and introduces us to eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, who discover that the nuns of Godstow Priory have a guest with them - a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua.
After a nomination process by Waterstones booksellers - which saw four fantastic Penguin Random House UK titles nominated, including Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, Talking to My Daughter About the Economy and The Lost Words - the final round of judging was led by Managing Director James Daunt. Speaking of Philip's win, he said, "This is a winner that is going to bring a lot of pleasure to an ever-widening audience and we could not be more pleased to play our part in its success."
Philip said that he was "very happy" to receive the award, adding, "booksellers are an absolutely necessary part of the complex ecology of the book world. These days the pressure of so many kinds of digital and social and economic and political change is forcing the world of books, like so many others, to evolve more swiftly than is sometimes comfortable. Where these changes will take us it’s too soon to guess, but I can’t foresee a time—and I wouldn’t wish to—when visiting a bookshop is not one of the greatest pleasures life can give us."
He also added that he had no idea La Belle Sauvage would be so popular: "I daresay many of the people who read His Dark Materials as children are now grown up and buying books for themselves, and I’m very grateful to them. When I write a book the main thing I’m concerned about is how to make the story work clearly, and I don’t think about the audience in the least. It’s always a privilege to find people reading you at all. To be given a prize is to have cream as well as apple pie."
To celebrate the award, Waterstones have announced a very special edition of La Belle Sauvage. The volume arrives in an exclusive cloth jacket, enhanced by gold foil and embossed finishes, a gold ribbon marker and endpapers of the London and Oxford skylines. Designed by illustrator Chris Wormell, each special edition contains one of six Ex Libris daemon bookplates, featuring key daemons from the text.