2023 Political Fiction Book prize winner

   Political Fiction book prize winner  

The New Life

Tom Crewe

Published by: Vintage

Tom Crewe was born in Middlesbrough in 1989. He has a PhD in nineteenth century British history from the University of Cambridge. Since 2015, he has been an editor at the London Review of Books, to which he contributes essays on politics, art, history and fiction. Boyd Tonkin, Chair of Judges, praised how the book:

…re-imagines the lives of the late Victorian writers Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds in the immediate aftermath of the trials and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. The fictionalised characters – John and Henry, and their wives Catherine and Edith – are brought to vivid life by Crewe, who writes about their social, intellectual and erotic lives with extraordinary verisimilitude. Wonderfully precise about things that themselves do not always seem appropriate to precision, the novel considers the similarities between desire and intellectual life, which both risk producing things that may ultimately prove abortive or bathetic. Crewe stays brilliantly faithful to the language, the outlook and the conventions of 1890s London even as he shows, and investigates, the distance between then and now. With compassion, lucidity and poise he explores both the creation of new sexual identities and the nature of social activism, as the ideals of liberation tangle with shame, fear and doubt.”