Keggie Carew’s debut, Dadland, has been selected for the Biography category shortlist for this year’s Costa Book Awards. The Costa Book Awards honour some of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. There are five categories - First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - with one of the five winners chosen as Book of the Year, announced at an awards ceremony in London in January.
Melding memoir, biography, history, travel and urgent story-telling, Dadland takes us on an unforgettable journey. As her octogenarian father’s mind dissolves into dementia, Keggie Carew uncovers a story whose facts could hardly survive in fiction. Tom Carew was a SOE officer in a special unit of the British Army, called the Jedburghs, who parachuted into occupied enemy territory to raise local resistance and carry out sabotage, first in WW2 with the maquis in France, and then into Burma, working to liberate the country with Ang San (Suu Kui’s father). Keggie’s lens is at once intimate and personal but it pans out to a global perspective, into the shadier areas of British history and beyond. The narrative continues through a century, to the present day, woven with fragments and snapshots of a family history that, though unusual, speaks to us all.
Tom Carew was a rule breaker and a maverick. Dadland is his daughter’s road to truth and attempt at reconciliation. It is a manhunt. In which she finds a technicolour life caught in the web of a slowly unravelling mind. Written with great fluidity, blazing with love and intelligence, this is a deeply human work that defies genre.
The judges said that the book was “A bravura tale of derring-do – stylish, unconventional and utterly hilarious.”