Life! Death! Prizes! (Prize Winner Costa shortlist 2012)
Poignant, funny, unforgettable and with echoes of Roddy Doyle, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and the works of Jimmy McGovern and Paul Abbot, this is a story of grief, resilience and brotherly love.
Billy's Mum is dead. He knows - because he reads about it in magazines - that people die every day in ways that are more random and tragic and stupid than hers, but for nineteen-year-old Billy and his little brother, Oscar, their mother's death in a bungled street robbery is the most random and tragic and stupid thing that could possibly have happened to them. Now Billy must be both mother and father to Oscar, and despite what his well-meaning aunt, the PTA mothers, the social services and Oscar's own prodigal father all think, he knows he is more than up to the job, thank you very much. The boys' new world, where bedtimes are arbitrary, tidiness is optional and healthy home-cooked meals pile up uneaten in the freezer, is built out of chaos and fierce love, but it's also a world that teeters perilously on its axis. And as Billy's obsession with his mother's missing killer grows, he risks losing sight of the one thing that really matters...
Funny, bittersweet and unforgettable, Life! Death! Prizes! is a story of grief, resilience and brotherly love.
A raw, funny and heartfelt book, full of surprising tenderness and hope - a fine achievement A.L. Kennedy
I loved this book for its touching, truthful - sometimes shocking - and painfully funny portrayal of two brothers struggling to stay together after the death of their mother. It's a paean of praise for the other side of contemporary youth, the side that, with all its foibles and failures, is still driven by love and connection Mavis Cheek
I don't know how he does it, but Stephen May manages to balance hilarity and sadness in nearly every sentence of this deftly comic, completely engaging and at times absolutely hair-raising novel. Life! Death! Prizes! deserves every one of its exclamation marks Suzanne Berne, author of the Orange Prize-winning A Crime in the Neighborhood
Echoes of J.D. Salinger and Dave Eggars, this is a book about boys, brotherhood, teenage heroism and confusion. It is happy, sad and good. Stephen May is a major new talent, sharply observant of the human condition Monique Roffey, author of White Woman on the Green Bicycle, shortlisted for Orange Prize
Stephen May has the sharp eye of David Nicholls and the verve of Kate Atkinson Suzannah Dunn, author of The Confession of Katharine Howard
A heartbreaking tale, propulsively told. By turns bleak, funny, and tender, Life! Death! Prizes! is an intoxicating gulp of a novel Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
Full of surprises, this acutely observed story of grief and love begins bleakly, ends up full of compassion and has great deal to say about modern families and the world we live in en route. It's a real achievement, and introduces Stephen May as a talent to be reckoned with Melvin Burgess
Gritty, witty, uplifting, sharp - it reminded me of Nick Hornby in its portrayal of modern family in all its glorious chaos Kate Long Stephen May's writing is muscular, tender and touching Willy Russell
Stephen May's first novel Tag published by a small Welsh press and won the Reader's Choice Award at the 2009 Welsh Book of the Year. Originally from Bedford, he now lives and works in west Yorkshire.