Shortlist year: 2014

Shortlist category: Fiction

Published by: Harper Collins

A World of Other People is a life-affirming evocation of love in war time, when every decision, and every day, matters.

Set in 1941 during the Blitz, Steven Carroll's cinematic new novel traces the love affair of Jim, an Australian pilot in Bomber Command, and Iris, a forthright young Londoner, finding her voice as a writer. Haunted by secrets and malign coincidence, the couple struggles to build a future free of society's thin-lipped disapproval. Iris shares rooftop fire watching duties with the poet TS Eliot, who unwittingly seals their fate with his famous verse 'Little Gidding'.

About the author

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll's latest novel Forever Young (2015) continues his award winning Glenroy series. He is the author of nine novels including A World of Other People (2013)—joint winner of the Prime Minister's Literary Award—and The Spirit of Progress (2011). He won the Miles Franklin Award for The Time We Have Taken in 2008. Steven lives in Melbourne with his partner, the author Fiona Capp, and their son.

Judges' comments

A World of Other People is a powerfully imagined, elegiac homage to love, heroism and poetry.

It is an entirely unexpected book to have been written with such committed seriousness by an Australian writer at this time. Set during the Second World War in burning London, this tightly structured, emotionally finely-tuned novel is concerned with an Australian airman, a young female public servant and T.S Eliot, an expatriated American publisher, who is in the process of being recognised as the finest poet of his age.

The coincidental encounters between the three central characters produce an intimate private drama, set against the immense and tragic backdrop of European civilization tearing itself apart.