Senior Lecturer Jeff Young has been shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Biography Prize for his book Ghost Town, a Liverpool Shadowplay.
The book, which came out in February to great acclaim, is about Jeff’s life but also the evolution of a city and has been called a “love letter to Liverpool”.
Sarah Maclennan, programme leader in Creative Writing and founder member of the Merseyside Literature Partnership, described the prestigious nomination as “a considerable achievement and recognition of a truly astonishing book.”
In Ghost Town, the Screen School veteran takes us on a journey through the Liverpool of his childhood – down back alleys, through arcades, into vanished tenements and oyster bars, strip-tease pubs and theatres.
We watch as he turns from schoolboy truant into an artist obsessed with Kafka, Terence Davies and The Fall. Along the way he conjures ghosts and puts hexes on the developers who’ve ruined the city of his dreams.
Layering memory, history and photography, this is a highly original approach to this great city.
Stage and screen
Jeff Young has written for stage, television and film and is one of BBC Radio Drama’s most acclaimed dramatists, having written over 30 broadcast plays. For television, he has written for Casualty, Doctors, Eastenders and CBBC.
For the stage, his recent credits include Bright Phoenix, the 50th anniversary production at Liverpool Everyman Theatre, and a version of The Who’s 1973 album Quadrophenia.
Reacting to the nomination, Jeff said “Being shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards is incredible and ridiculous! I’ve been writing for over thirty years and I’ve had lots of scripts for radio and theatre produced but Ghost Town is the first book I’ve written.
“It’s a love letter to Liverpool and to my family, and particularly to my sister who died while I was writing it. Since it was published I’ve been humbled by the response; lots of people have commented on how my memories and experiences chime with their own.
“The book is a celebration of deadbeat visionaries, poets, punks and dreamers and of the Liverpool streets that formed me, and to have readers who recognise something of themselves in my wanderings is really quite something.”
Ghost Town, a Liverpool Shadowplay is published by Little Toller Books