Stephen May (a published student)
December 2012

About the publication

Billy's Mum is dead. He knows - because he reads about it in magazines - that people die every day in ways that are more random and tragic and stupid than hers, but for nineteen-year-old Billy and his little brother, Oscar, their mother's death in a bungled street robbery is the most random and tragic and stupid thing that could possibly have happened to them.

Now Billy must be both mother and father to Oscar, and despite what his well-meaning aunt, the PTA mothers, the social services and Oscar's own prodigal father all think, he knows he is more than up to the job, thank you very much.

The boys' new world, where bedtimes are arbitrary, tidiness is optional and healthy home-cooked meals pile up uneaten in the freezer, is built out of chaos and fierce love, but it's also a world that teeters perilously on its axis. And as Billy's obsession with his mother's missing killer grows, he risks losing sight of the one thing that really matters...

Funny, bittersweet and unforgettable, Life! Death! Prizes! is a story of grief, resilience and brotherly love.


If you're in the mood for a good bout of sobbing and your own life is just too nice to make you cry, this will definitely do it ... one is inevitably reminded of Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius ... it's a warm novel, written with a wry wit, and the end is as uplifting as a good bra.

The Times

Stephen May's rites-of-passage novel is a painfully raw examination of the effects of loss and grief, and the confusion and difficulty of trying to be a male role model when you've never had a proper one yourself.

Daily Mail

A raw, funny and heartfelt book, full of surprising tenderness and hope - a fine achievement.

A. L. Kennedy

Stephen May's voice is original, funny and poignant as he marries sharp imagery with the brothers' beautifully realised relationship. Unmissable.

Marie Claire

The story is beautifully put together, with a strong cast and, not least, an extremely satisfying ending.

Readers Digest

May has created some strong characters ... a graphic picture of contemporary family life.


Stephen May's writing is muscular, tender and touching.

Willy Russell