William Finnegan’s acclaimed memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life has been announced as the winner of this year’s William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in a ceremony at BAFTA. Finnegan will receive a free William Hill bet and a day at the races in addition to the £28,000 prize.
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the General Outstanding Sports Writing Award at the 2016 Cross Sports Book Awards, Barbarian Days appeared on numerous Best Books of 2015 lists, in addition to featuring on Barack Obama’s summer reading list. It is published by Corsair in the UK and Penguin Press in the US, with translation rights sold in seven territories to date.
The memoir, described by the William Hill judges as ‘compelling, elegaic and profound’ tells the story of a young Bill Finnegan catching the surfing bug in California and Hawaii in the 1960s, before travelling all over the world to master its waves. It marks only the second appearance of surfing on the William Hill shortlist. Judge Mark Lawson said that Finnegan’s ‘account of the physical and psychological drive to achieve athletic perfection make Barbarian Days a worthy winner’ of the prestigious sports writing prize, while critics have praised the author’s ‘visionary descriptions of oceanic beauty occasionally met with in surfing but seldom done justice’ (New York Times) in his ‘revealing and magisterial account of a beautiful addiction’ (Publishers Weekly starred review).
A celebrated writer for The New Yorker, William Finnegan has twice been a National Magazine Award finalist and has won numerous journalism awards.