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Guardian First Book Award


Alex Ross has won this year’s Guardian First Book Award for The Rest is Noise, a history of twentieth-century classical music. Announcing Ross’s victory at a ceremony in London last night, the Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, himself an accomplished music critic, said that having read the book ‘you won’t be able to hear any twentieth-century music, from Strauss through to Radiohead and Bjork, the same way’.

With The Rest is Noise, Ross sought to bring the composers of the twentieth century back in from the cultural cold. He has said that ‘While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences.’ The book explores and explains why and how composers such as Schoenberg, Berg and John Cage, so often maligned for their difficulty, broke from the music of the past, reinvented musical forms, and interpreted the political, social and artistic travails of their present. Critics have praised the book for its mix of minute musical analysis, grand historical narrative and metaphorical flare.

The award is the latest addition to a long list of successes for The Rest is Noise. Last year it won the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism and was a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction. It also attracted ‘Best Book’ nominations from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the LA Times, among others. In the UK it was shortlisted for the 2008 Samuel Johnson Prize, where it lost out to Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.

Claire Armistead, the chair of the judges for last night’s award who also sat on the panel for the Samuel Johnson, said today that the success of The Rest is Noise proves that ‘there is a huge appetite among readers for clear, serious but accessible books’.

Comments (17)

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  1. leesa

    Mon Apr 14 11:26:54 BST 2014

  2. johnsmith3289115

    Mon Apr 21 05:10:26 BST 2014

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  3. isabellemilligan

    Tue Dec 24 17:11:44 GMT 2013

    I'm so curious to read the book to get the award. There are so many people who have the exact same opinion with me. The book must be very interesting.

  4. irmacurran

    Thu Dec 26 10:20:58 GMT 2013

    The award is given to a book can not be done in vain. There are quite a lot of books that could rival competitor made ​​his award.

  5. isabellemilligan

    Fri Dec 27 07:01:30 GMT 2013

    An award winning book certainly not ordinary books. There are so many people who have a good assessment on the book.

  6. ColdyMilligan

    Fri Dec 27 15:17:09 GMT 2013

    I so want to know what kind of criteria that makes a lot of people get into this award. There are so many people who want to be the winner of this award.

  7. ColdyMilligan

    Fri Jan 31 13:41:40 GMT 2014

    Award given will usually be accompanied by gift giving. There are so many people who could be nominated for this award.

  8. JulioWell

    Mon Mar 03 08:07:52 GMT 2014

    I think it can make another writers to work harder. And they are like getting a new spirit in their career.

  9. SecondBull

    Wed Jan 29 12:51:06 GMT 2014

    Awarded for a work that has been made ​​is encouraging. You can give this award to the people who have helped you.

  10. erickgoyder

    Wed Jan 29 19:57:28 GMT 2014

    Everyone was very happy with the various types of awards that can be received. There are so many criteria that writers can get the attention of the judges.

  11. SecondBull

    Thu Jan 30 12:08:08 GMT 2014

    This award must be proof that you are a very great person. Everyone will tell you the work of many people to buy and read.

  12. annabelleslessor

    Fri Jan 31 09:31:17 GMT 2014

    Usually everyone will immediately know who won this award. This award will make a lot of people envious and of course how many gift to be received.

  13. Mellywooden

    Sat Feb 01 06:47:10 GMT 2014

    Getting this award will make you become someone famous. There are quite a lot of people are eyeing this award to make good work.

  14. AugustStar

    Sun Feb 02 18:19:46 GMT 2014

    Congratulation for him. I hope he keep write more books.