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The 2020 Pub Prize Launch

July brought our Pub Prize journey full circle as we celebrated all the achievements of the team and our authors. This year, of course, we held the launch virtually and we wish to thank all that could attend for bearing with us through the technical glitches. For those that were not able to make it, we wanted to share with you here the order of proceedings. Authors curious to spot their name in the contents page, skip to 1:19!

The night would not have been the same without our speakers Daniel Boswell from the Department of Information Studies and Sara Wingate Gray from UCL Arts and Sciences (BASc). Unfortunately, Sara's speech was cut short due to connectivity issues but we have collected some of our most memorable quotes here for you to nod along to. Sara perfectly encapsulated what libraries represent and mean to so many in the 21st Century and how our current isolation might be heightening our appreciation for the community they afford.

"The thing that brings people together, that everyone has in common when talking about libraries is the impact that these spaces, these places and the contents of them have had on them as children, as young people and throughout their ongoing life."

"Something that is intrinsic to libraries - how it is possible that we can manage to bring so many disparate and discreet different types of people and cultures together [through them]"

"Movements of different cultures and voices come together in this space that we call libraries"

"They are places that contain but also expand the world view and I think that's what's really exciting to people about them."

"We speak of libraries as very structural and institutional and there may be a typical way of viewing what they seem like to us, a building, there are physical books, and in the world today, there are technological interactions."

"Something libraries are really important at: bringing people physically together, something really difficult for us to experience in the here and now. Never before have we been so close, packed in dense cities, but possibly so alone, and not together with people. But the joy of a book, I think many of us found, or indeed the voices across the airwaves on the radio that people might have been listening to, or their ebooks and podcasts and all these kinds of things somehow these voices, whether they're in print or coming to us through the ether, can make us often feel less lonely, more attached and connected to the world, the wide world, not just the world wide web but also the wider world itself. Everyone is currently going through this situation, we are all having the same experience, so I think libraries speak to a really core thing, fundamentally, of us as humans."

"Libraries have something intrinsic to the anthropology of mankind. That libraries enable us to structure and build our societies but then to see how they're destroyed by us as well..."

Sara also began to read us the foreword she composed for the 2020 Publishers' Prize, but almost as if to tempt you further to buy this year's anthology, this is where she got cut off. In the spirit of continuing this intrigue here are the first few lines:

"Writers and libraries have long had a love affair. Such devotional dalliances have also been the propagation site of a curious species: the poet librarian..."

Of course, none of this would have been possible without our authors, we are so grateful for your constant engagement and excitement throughout this whole process! We thoroughly enjoyed working with you through submissions and editing your #LibrariesRelocated readings (found over on socials).

Congratulations to our winning authors for poetry, Jennie Balaganeshan for Over Before It Began and Yaning Wu for The Borrower! Jennie wins two Bloodaxe books and a subscription to PN Review Magazine and the judges felt her poem was "brilliantly funny, inventive, snappy and fresh"! Yaning wins a Faber Academy course, worth up to £250 and the judges feedback on her poem was that it was "heartfelt and contemplative, celebrating the life-affirming nature of libraries".

And our winning authors for prose, Hûw Steer for The Old Oak Door and Libby Randall for A Peculiar Discovery! Hûw wins Literary Emporium goodies and an £100 iTunes gift card, generously donated by the Department of Information studies (£1 for every year of its existence, Happy Centenary!). The judges thought his piece was "chilling and dark, but also funny and clever". Libby wins a 30-minute ‘brainstorm your novel session’ with Cornerstones Literary Consultancy and the judges felt her writing was "brilliant and mesmerising, while never ceasing to awe the reader until the very end". Congratulations both!

The evening concluded with a Pub Prize Pub Quiz, carefully crafted by editor Fabienne Schwizer and hosted by Daniel Boswell. As our final parting gift we thought it would be nice to make the quiz available to all so that you can host your own quiz with friends and family. You should be able to access it through Canva here!

The books are, as yet, still not available to preorder or buy but we would advise keeping up to date with our socials as that will be where announcements of that kind will first be made!

✒︎The Pub Prize Team

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