The reaction in the print press to Burgess winning the Carnegie Medal for JUNK in 1997 was one of the motivating forces behind the establishment of ACHUKA. At that time there was some online coverage of American children’s/YA literature but hardly anything existed in the UK.
So that summer I taught myself HTML and launched ACHUKA in September, as a vehicle for celebrating and advocating children’s books and, especially, teen fiction.
The Bookseller will present Melvin Burgess with a YA Book Prize special achievement award to mark 20 years since the publication of Junk.
Published in 1996 by Andersen Press, Junk follows the lives of Gemma and Tar, two teenagers who become involved in drugs and prostitution. Based on Burgess’ own experience of living in Bristol during the punk era, the book went on to become a cult classic.
The novel was a key proponent in the inception and growth of the UK’s Young Adult market and movement, but Burgess says he “was the right person doing the right thing at the right time”.
He explained: “Junk and its success showed that the prevailing attitude to teenagers at the time—which was ‘they don’t read’—could be broken if only the right material was available. People had been talking about the developing teenage market for years, and Junk was certainly a big push in that process.”
Burgess will be presented with the award at the YA Book Prize ceremony, at the Hay Festival on 2nd June. Andersen Press is also releasing a 20th anniversary edition of the novel, with an introduction by Malorie Blackman and the correspondence between author and publisher.