Alex Ross won The Guardian‘s First Book Award for The Rest is Noise. Ross’ subject, twentieth century music, had some critics tossing out the word “inaccessible”:
The chair of the judging panel, Guardian literary editor Claire Armitstead, said: “In some quarters this book has been seen as not having a popular appeal. Our prize – which, uniquely, relies on readers’ groups in the early stages of judging – proves that, on the contrary, there is a huge appetite among readers for clear, serious but accessible books.”
According to one judge: “Where Ross lifts his book above the ‘expert’ and impressive to the ‘good read’ category is in the way he wears his learning lightly, never clutches for false or contrived ways of explaining music, and never dumbs down in order to explain.”
One of the members of the Waterstone’s reading groups, who helped in the judging process, said: “Every time I felt overwhelmed by the technicalities, along came a sublime metaphor or simile that would light up the prose.” -From The Guardian
You can read more about his win here.