Congratulations to A level English Literature student, Alastair McLelland, on winning the E-Magazine Close Reading Competition 2021. Alastair’s 500 word entry was selected from over 200 entries, the first time a student from Wyke has won the top prize.
The competition centred on an extract from the award winning novel “Homecoming” by Yaa Gyasi. Published in 2017, the book has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim. The Stylist magazine named it as one of the decade’s 15 best books by remarkable women. Their review highlighted the power of the text. “This incredible book travels from Ghana to the US revealing how slavery destroyed so many families, traditions and lives – and how its terrifying impact is still reverberating now.”
Wyke’s Head of English, Jamie Farrow, encouraged Alastair to participate and was very pleased with the judge’s decision. “Well done, Alastair! You have managed to do what no student at Wyke has before you!”
Alastair has been very modest about his success and he does acknowledge that he has learnt from the process. “The competition definitely improved my essay writing skills. The 500 word limit meant that I spent most of my time trying to improve the efficiency of my language.”
Alastair’s A level English Literature teacher was also happy with the awarding of first prize. “I was thrilled to hear the news. Alastair is an excellent student and thoroughly deserved the win.”
The competition judge and education consultant, Dr Jenny Stevens, was full of praise for this year’s submissions. “While a successful competition response inevitably requires strong reading skills, it also requires strong writing skills. All of the interpretations I read were lucidly and accurately expressed. What put some writers ahead of others, however, was their ability to condense an idea or comment on stylistic technique into a telling phrase of their own, without relying on an armoury of literary terms. Alastair’s observation that the third-person narrative was ‘repeatedly slipping away from the present and into Ness’ memory’ was a notable case in point.”
Listen to Alastair read from his winning work on the College YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKhsV9mTsKA