Coming-of-age novel by North Yorkshire author wins prestigious international award

The Northern Echo: AWARD WINNER: Author Ali Lewis with a copy of her debut novel, Everybody Jam AWARD WINNER: Author Ali Lewis with a copy of her debut novel, Everybody Jam

A NORTH Yorkshire author said she is "thrilled and honoured" to have won a prestigious international award for her debut novel.

The Swedish translation of Ali Lewis's coming-of-age novel Everybody Jam has won the Peter Pan Prize, awarded annually to a book for children or young adults.

The award, for high quality writing in both literary and subject terms, was established in 2000 by IBBY Sweden - the country's branch of The International Board on Books for Young People.

Ms Lewis will travel to Sweden in September to be presented with her award during the Gothenburg Book Fair - the second biggest of its kind in Europe, attracting 100,000 visitors annually.

Judges described Everybody Jam, set in the Australian outback, as a "continually captivating debut novel".

The novel, which has been nominated for several literary awards, tells the story of a teenage boy struggling to come to terms with a tumultuous family life against the background of the annual cattle muster.

Announcing the award this week, the judging panel said: "Ali Lewis manages to naturally and unsentimentally weave in questions about sorrow and shame, about social belongings, teenage pregnancy, hurting family relations and environmental threats.

"The author gives a plain description of the family's ingrained prejudices towards the Aborigines, but also shows how these are beginning to be chipped away through the dramatic course of events."

Ms Lewis, from Thirlby, near Thirsk, is a former journalist with The Northern Echo and Darlington and Stockton Times.

She said: "IBBY is all about promoting good literature to children and young people, so for them to choose my book to receive this accolade, really is a great honour.

"Elisabeth Fredholm who translated it into Swedish for the publisher Opal has obviously done a great job."

She added: "I am very much looking forward to visiting Sweden in September to attend the Gothenburg Book Fair.

"I've travelled a lot - and it was my trip to Australia in 2002 that inspired me to write Everybody Jam, but I've never been to Sweden, so that makes it even more exciting."

Ms Lewis, 37, is currently living in London and is working on her second novel.

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