Fiction Book Award
Honorable Mention to
We the House
by Warren Ashworth and Susan Kander
I was asked to evaluate the Science Fiction and Fantasy books that were submitted for the J. Donald & Bertha Coffin Memorial Award for Fiction. I judged the books according to my experiences in reading many other books in the science fiction/fantasy genre and many of the sub genres. The titles given to me from which I chose were in the sub-genres of fantasy, ghost story, mythological high fantasy, techno thriller, and space opera. From these I selected We the House by Warren Ashworth and Susan Kander as the winner.
“We the House” tells the story of a family by way of the house and, specifically, a portrait that is located in the dining room and watches the comings and goings of the family members in the course of the one hundred plus years it has hung in that one spot. The subject of the portrait, mistakenly identified as Mrs. Speale, is an interlocutor of the first stripe. She is observant and understanding, even while she keeps a sharp eye on the people who occupy the house. As an interlocutor she interprets and filters what is said and done by the various family members down through the years. Mrs. Speale is full of witty repartee, loving acceptance of humanity, and educated explanations that keep the “house,” and the reader, engaged and on their toes. Mrs. Speale, the house, and the inhabitants come to life in the hands of these authors. The novel could have become convoluted and overstuffed, but the authors created a cozy warm place, not without its tragedies, that draws the reader in by using spare text along with a tricky literary device to tell a conventional story in an unconventional way.
2022 J. Donald & Bertha Coffin Memorial
Fiction Book Co-Judge