Entertainment & Arts

Harry Potter and Beatrix Potter up for Waterstones book of the year

Harry Potter book cover Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Harry Potter script became the fastest-selling book this decade when it was released in July

Two Potter publications are among the titles vying to be named Waterstones Book of the Year 2016.

The best-selling play script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is joined on this year's shortlist by Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.

This list includes just one novel, Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent, and three works of non-fiction.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, called it "a highly eclectic list".

Nominated by Waterstones booksellers, the six books on the shortlist are:

  • Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel (Allen Lane)
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Vintage)
  • The Optician of Lampedusa by Emma-Jane Kirby (Allen Lane)
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (Profile)
  • The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Warne)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, based on an original new story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany (Little, Brown)

The Harry Potter script became the fastest-selling book this decade when it was released in July, with many shops opening at midnight - just hours after the stage play opened in London's West End.

Image copyright Quentin Blake

Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, written more than 100 years ago, was discovered in the Victoria and Albert Museum and was published in September with illustrations by Quentin Blake.

The most nominated book on the list was Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent, a gothic tale about a village living in terror of a legendary creature.

Paul Kalanithi's memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, was written as he faced a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Christopher De Hamel's Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts mixes history, memoir, and travelogue.

The trio of non-fiction titles is completed by The Optician of Lampedusa, BBC correspondent Emma-Jane Kirby's account of one man's experience of the European migrant crisis.

"This year only the inclusion of the de facto patron saint of booksellers, JK Rowling, was predictable," said James Daunt. "Praise be to her, but I encourage all to look closely at the other wonderful books we shortlist."

The winner, chosen by a panel headed by Daunt, will be announced on 1 December.

Last year's winner was The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith.

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