Prime Minister Honours J K Rowling

Posted on: 17 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

The Harry Potter creator receives an accolade from Gordon Brown at the Galaxy British Book Awards.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised Harry Potter author J K Rowling on Wednesday 9th April 2008, as she received an award for Outstanding Achievement at the Galaxy British Book Awards.

The Prime Minister said, "She has joined a distinguished line of British authors whose work has got the whole country reading, and whose books will be read for many years to come by successive generations."

The Prime Minister also praised the multi-millionaire author for her contributions to charities, but always "in a quiet way". The celebrity-studded audience at the 'Nibbies' awards gave her a standing ovation.

Commenting on the award, which is sponsored by The Book People, J K Rowling said, "I really am thrilled to be receiving an Outstanding Achievement Award. And quite pleased that I haven't been pensioned off just yet with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Nibbies mean an enormous amount to me, and to be recognised in this way is a real honour."

The publishing industry also honoured veteran author Doris Lessing with a standing ovation for a career that included the award to her last year of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Lessing was shortlisted for the Reader's Digest Author of the Year for her novel, The Cleft, but the title went to Ian McEwan for his bestselling novel,On Chesil Beach. The Award was presented by Lord Attenborough.

The climax of the evening was the presentation of the Galaxy Book of the Year by Jonathan Ross to Ian McEwan for his novel, On Chesil Beach. The award was accepted on McEwan's behalf by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who starred in the film Atonement.

The Galaxy Book of the Year is awarded to the book that has made an outstanding impact both within the book industry and beyond. It is a bestseller that has created wide media attention and has encouraged more people to read and buy books. It was chosen by the Academy of the British Book Industry.

It was a good night too for Russell Brand whose book, My Booky Wook won the Tesco Biography of the Year. Russell was presented with his award by American television chat show host, Jay Leno.

The Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year was won by Khaled Hosseini for his novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, with sales of over 700,000 making it the best selling book so far this year. Hosseini said of his win, "It's a tremendous honour for me to have won this award, and to see that A Thousand Splendid Suns has been so warmly received in the UK." He received his award from David Morrissey, Imogen Stubbs and Marie Helvin who have all reviewed titles for the Richard & Judy Book Club.

In the public vote, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones came second and Blood River by Tim Butcher was third.

US crime writer, Patricia Cornwell won the Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year for her novel Book of the Dead and collected her award from actor, Neil Morrissey.

It was also a good night for independent publisher, Tindal Street Press, as their author, Catherine O'Flynn, won the Waterstone's Newcomer of the Year for her novel What Was Lost. She said of her win, "I'm both honoured and thrilled about it. It's great to be part of an award where so many readers play a part in deciding who wins." The award was presented by Alesha Dixon.

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman picked up the Popular Non-Fiction Award for their book Long Way Down. Charley said, "We'd like to thank everyone who has enjoyed the book for their support. It's fantastic to be recognised in this way by the Galaxy British Book Awards and our thanks go out to everyone who has contributed to this great adventure."

Comedian Alan Carr presented writer Kim Edwards with the Sainsbury's Popular Fiction award for her novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter, a Richard & Judy Summer Read. Kim commented, "As I wrote The Memory Keeper's Daughter, I could never have imagined that it would touch the lives of so many readers."

The Memory Keeper's Daughter is the third biggest selling book of the year, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, last year's Richard & Judy Best Read winner.

Geri Halliwell presented bestselling children's author, Francesca Simon, with the W H Smith Children's Book of the Year for Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman. The shortlist was voted for by children through branches of W H Smith. Simon's book is the second bestselling children's book of 2007, after Harry Potter.

The Galaxy British Book Awards are the Oscars of the book trade, where the glitterati and the literati mix. The 19th annual event at London's Grosvenor House was hosted by Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. In an evening packed with celebrities and the nation's most popular authors, Barry Humphries, Richard Hammond and Rob Bryden were amongst the many high profile presenters and nominees.

The Galaxy British Book Awards, organised by the book trade weekly, Publishing News, are the only awards which take votes from both the book-buying public and the Academy of the British Book Industry, made up of publishers, booksellers, past winners and other representatives of the British book industry. The Academy is chaired for the first time this year by Conn Iggulden, winner of last year's Book of the Year, for The Dangerous Book for Boys.

Readers had a number of ways to register their choices. The Galaxy British Book Awards Shortlists Magazine was available in bookshops and libraries across the UK and inserted into The Guardian, and included a voting card for the Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year and the Galaxy Book of the Year. The event drew a record number of votes. Children were able to vote for their favourite book through branches of W H Smith. Voters could opt for their favourite in seven categories by visiting the Awards website

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