John D Rutter wins the 2020 NorthBound Book Award

Posted on June 24, 2020

Approval, by John D Rutter, wins the 2020 NorthBound Book Award


We are delighted to announce John D Rutter as the winner of this year’s NorthBound Book Award.

Approval follows would-be parents David and Cici as they undertake an audit of their past and present circumstances and relationships in the hope of being deemed by the authorities to be suitable to adopt a child. It’s a brave book that tackles the painful experience of childlessness and the path to becoming adoptive parents, viewed largely from the seldom-explored man’s perspective. Fragments of David’s back story – some of them exposing flaws or difficult experiences – gradually build a picture of a couple struggling to balance their hopes and fears while confronting revelations from the past. Such intense and intrusive scrutiny raises uncomfortable questions about how much intervention is necessary for the state to ascertain who should stand in judgement on would-be parents, and what is desirable and inevitable in the interests of vulnerable children.

Sara Hunt said: “Approval is a powerful and accomplished work that asks uncomfortable questions about a painful, intrusive process. With an unflinching eye, the author draws the reader into the process of judgement, chapter by chapter. Against a strong field, this is an outstanding winner, and we can’t wait to publish the book.”

John D Rutter is a writer of and about short stories, who also teaches and edits. He completed an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and a PhD on the short story at Edge Hill University, where he has taught part-time for several years. Approval is his first full-length work. His short stories have been published as chapbooks and in anthologies, as well as in a number of journals and magazines. Prior to writing and teaching full-time, he worked in management. He lives in Lancashire with his wife, Lin.


Due to the calibre of entries this year there was a second novel we wanted to acknowledge. Highly Commended for the NorthBound Book Award 2020 is Alison Armstrong who submitted her novel, Fossils. Previously nominated for several writing awards, her poems, essays and short stories have been published in magazines and journals. Congratulations Alison.


The NorthBound Book Prize is one of the Northern Writers’ Awards and is a collaboration between New Writing North and Saraband, judged by representatives of both organisations. It is funded by Northumbria University and Arts Council England. The award is for a full-length work of fiction or narrative non-fiction written for adults, and the winner receives £5000 in prize money and a publishing contract with Saraband.