A panel from Oxford institution booksellers Blackwell’s have named Mary Beard’s Emperor of Rome, Martin MacInnes’ In Ascension, and Pari Thomson’s Greenwild as winners of Blackwell’s non-fiction, fiction and children’s Book of the Year respectively.
The category winners are nominees for Blackwell’s Book of the Year, which will be announced on 28 November.
As the author of international bestseller SPQR on ancient Rome, Beard has changed her recent focus to the emperors that ruled the Roman Empire. Emperor of Rome goes beyond a chronological account of Roman political history, instead “[asking] bigger questions: What power did emperors actually have? Was the Roman palace really so bloodstained?” said Blackwell’s synopsis.
Blackwell’s Oxford bookseller James Orton described the work as “an in depth look at the eccentricities of the emperors that ruled Rome through its most turbulent time in History. A classic example of when fact can be much stranger than fiction.”
In Ascension traverses space instead of time as marine scientist Leigh explores remote locations across the world in search of answers beyond human understanding. Blackwell’s synopsis describes the book as a “compassionate, deeply inquisitive epic that reaches outward to confront the greatest questions of existence [and] looks inward to illuminate the smallest details of the human heart.”
The first of Thomson’s New York Times bestselling fantasy series, Greenwild takes young readers on an enchanting journey with Daisy, a boarding school escapee who discovers a hidden doorway into “a spellbinding world where the wilderness is alive and a deep magic rises from the earth itself,” according to Blackwell’s synopsis.
Founded in 1879, on 50 Broad Street, Oxford, Blackwell’s has since expanded into a chain of 30 bookshops across the UK. Its Norrington Room held for many years the Guinness Record for the single largest room in the world selling books.