Blackwell’s Book of the Year is an annual award given to an author and their book and voted for in its entirety by the staff at Blackwell’s Bookshops.
This year, 3 authors were crowned in different categories. For Children (‘Greenwild’ by Pari Thomson), Fiction (‘In Ascension’ by Martin MacInnes) and Non-Fiction (‘Emperor of Rome’ by Mary Beard).
A panel of Booksellers then chose the overall winner and were delighted to announce that Martin MacInnes had won for ‘In Ascension’. This evening, Martin will be presented with a trophy and give a talk on his stunning and immersive novel, ‘In Ascension’.
Leigh grew up in Rotterdam, drawn to the waterfront as an escape from her unhappy home life and volatile father. Enchanted by the undersea world of her childhood, she excels in marine biology, travelling the globe to study ancient organisms. When a trench is discovered in the Atlantic ocean, Leigh joins the exploration team, hoping to find evidence of the earth’s first life forms – what she instead finds calls into question everything we know about our own beginnings.
Her discovery leads Leigh to the Mojave desert and an ambitious new space agency. Drawn deeper into the agency’s work, she learns that the Atlantic trench is only one of several related phenomena from across the world, each piece linking up to suggest a pattern beyond human understanding. Leigh knows that to continue working with the agency will mean leaving behind her declining mother and her younger sister, and faces an impossible choice: to remain with her family, or to embark on a journey across the breadth of the cosmos.
Exploring the natural world with the wonder and reverence we usually reserve for the stars, In Ascension is a compassionate, deeply inquisitive epic that reaches outward to confront the greatest questions of existence, looks inward to illuminate the smallest details of the human heart, and shows how – no matter how far away we might be and how much we have lost hope – we will always attempt to return to the people and places we call home.
Our Booksellers say…
‘With a story that is equal parts fantastical and real, Martin MacInnes’ In Ascension manages to create an unsettling atmosphere that lingers throughout the whole novel. The prose is transcendental; every word feels carefully picked and makes you feel as if you, too, are floating on the vast ocean with just the sea below you and the stars above you.’
Emily Gevers, Blackwell’s Aberdeen
‘In Ascension manages to really hit that sweet spot of being a literary page-turner; thrilling and fully realised.’
Chris Grimshaw, Blackwell’s Manchester
‘A genre defying novel of epic scale but with real human emotion at it’s heart. Leigh runs from her abusive childhood by immersing herself in the world of microbiology never imagining where this journey will eventually lead her.’
Lara Mieduniecki, Blackwell’s Edinburgh
‘A breathtaking novel that takes us into the deepest parts of the oceans to discover the truth behind what makes us who we really are.’
James Orton, Blackwell’s Oxford
‘An eerie dystopian novel that keeps you guessing the whole way through. A book that truly has it all – exploring the far reaches of space and simultaneously the complex relationships of family.’
Libby Low, Blackwell’s Exeter