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American reporter's surfing memoir wins William Hill Sports Book of the Year

William Finnegan’s ‘Barbarian Days’ took out the prestigious honour today.

Award-winning author William Finnegan.
Award-winning author William Finnegan.
Image: William Hill - Twitter

AMERICAN REPORTER WILLIAM Finnegan has won the prestigious William Hill Sportsbook of the Year award for 2016 with his surfing memoir ‘Barbarian Days’.

The New Yorker spent nearly two decades writing the “compelling” book, which delves into Finnegan’s 50 years of surfing across the United States.

In the book, Finnegan details his chasing of waves and the danger he encountered while doing so.

John Inverdale said that the judges were unanimous in their decision to award Finnegan, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine who focuses on human rights issues, the gong.

“People thought this was a genuinely extraordinary book, about life — about a certain kind of life,” Inverdale explained.

“It’s a bit hedonistic. It’s a bit reckless. A lot of people will identify with it. A lot of people will envy it.

“If you read it with an open mind, you will realise what an amazing thing life is and having some kind of engagement and passion for sport enables you to live life to the full.”

Other books that were in the running for the award included Oliver Kay’s ‘Forever Young’ which chronicles the tragic tale of Strabane man Adrian Doherty who was once on the books at Manchester United.

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Former winners of the award include Nick Hornby (Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life, 1992), Paul Kimmage (Rough Ride: An Insight into Pro Cycling, 1990) and Donald McCrae (In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens, 2002).

Full list of nominees:

  • Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek by Rick Broadbent (Wisden)
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
  • Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)
  • Chasing Shadows: The Life & Death of Peter Roebuck by Tim Lane and Elliot Cartledge (Hardie Grant Books)
  • Mr Darley’s Arabian: High Life, LowLife, Sporting Life – A History of Racing in 25 Horses by Christopher McGrath (John Murray)
  • Find a Way: One Untamed and Courageous Life by Diana Nyad (Macmillan)
    Mister: The Men Who Taught the World How to Beat England at Their Own Game by Rory Smith (Simon & Schuster)

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