Editor’s note: Allyce Amidon, associate editor at Foreword Reviews, made the following remarks June 26 at the 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards in San Francisco.
Have you ever had your life changed by a book? What am I saying? We’re at a book conference, everybody in this hall has had their life changed by at least one book. Books have this crazy power to get inside our heads and souls and change our lives like nothing else on earth.
Maybe you met your husband through your mutual love of an obscure genre. Maybe you read a book that lit such a passion in you for the written word that you decided to become an author. Maybe you read a book that connected with you and kept you sane when you were in a very dark place. Maybe you read a book that saved your life. Books are powerful, magical things.
This is something the author of this year’s Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction clearly knows, because it sits at the heart of the story. The prose is lyrical, the detail sumptuous, the story is humorous and heartbreaking, gorgeous and flirting with the line between magic and realism. It’s a story that explores the innate power of literature: to connect, to heal, to transform.
This book was inspired by one of the author’s students, an Iraq War vet who took his own life shortly after taking her class. She set out to imagine a different ending for him. Thus was born the story of a young soldier who returns from two tours in Iraq with the deep-seated conviction that the book he carried with him saved his life. Memories from war continue to haunt him, the VA doctor he visited once is no help, so, with no other idea what to do, he decides to set out on his cousin’s motorcycle on a quest to find the author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez himself.
This is the story of a broken man whose life is saved by a book, and in writing this book, the author has indubitably created a book that will in turn save lives. It is my very great pleasure to award this year’s Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction to Sarah Stark for Out There, published by Leaf Storm Press.
Allyce Amidon is the associate editor at Foreword Reviews, where she blogs about comics and graphic novels. You can follow her on Twitter @allyce_amidon