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2016: Max Porter, 'Grief is the Thing With Feathers'

Max Porter took the prize in 2016 with the surreal hybrid of prose and poetry that is Grief is the Thing with Feathers, praised by judges as ‘beguiling and astonishing.’

The novella also won the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for The Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize. The book’s global appeal has led to sales in twenty-nine territories internationally.  

Since publication, it has been adapted for stage starring Cillian Murphy. The play debuted in Dublin then showed to more than 26,000 people in London and New York in spring 2019. 

Porter recently published his second book, the novel Lanny (2019), once again challenging narrative conventions with an experimental structure that underscores powerful themes.

Lanny was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize and the Booker Prize. A film adaptation is currently in production starring Rachel Weisz.

2016: Max Porter, 'Grief is the Thing With Feathers'

Synopsis - 'Grief is the Thing With Feathers'

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother's sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.

In this extraordinary debut - part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter's compassion and bravura style combine to dazzling effect. Full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth, Grief is the Thing with Feathers marks the arrival of a thrilling new talent.

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Max Porter - 2016 Winner

In this episode, Cultural Institute intern Eddie Matthews talks to award-winning writer Max Porter.