Four Oxford graduates have been shortlisted for the title of Waterstones Book Of The Year 2023.

Each year, Waterstones booksellers are asked to nominate a book title that they most loved putting into reader's hands over the last 12 months.

The award has an illustrious list of previous winners, ranging from Philip Pullman and Sally Rooney to Charlie Mackesy and Paul McCartney.

READ MORE: More than 15 flood alerts issued for Oxfordshire amid Storm Ciaran

The four titles written by Oxford University graduates are In Memoriam by Alice Winn, Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell and Ultra-Processed People by doctor and broadcaster Chris van Tulleken.

Alice Winn, who earlier this year won the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, has a degree in English Literature from Oxford University and now lives in Brooklyn, where she writes screenplays.

She grew up in Paris and was educated in British boarding schools.

Oxford Mail: Alice Winn , winner of the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2023

Inspired by old clippings from Marlborough College’s student newspaper, In Memoriam is a true love story set against the backdrop of World War One.

Ms Winn: "I wrote In Memoriam when I came across the tragic student newspapers of my old school from the First World War.

“It has been so meaningful to see In Memoriam resonate with other people, because for so long I felt a little crazy being so upset about this war that ended a hundred years ago!

“Waterstones and its wonderful, erudite booksellers have made all the difference in helping In Memoriam reach readers, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them."

R.F. Kuang is an award-winning, New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author.

She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford.

Oxford Mail: R.F. Kuang

She is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale, where she studies diaspora, contemporary Chinese literature, and Asian American literature.

Her novel Yellowface is a literary thriller that investigates ambition, greed and white privilege.

Ms Kuang said: “Yellowface was one of those stories that dropped into my head fully formed. 

"It was in early 2021 and there were lots of conversations taking place about race, diversity and inequality in publishing.

"I wanted to trouble the idea that anyone necessarily has the right to tell any story, or that there is some objective standard of authenticity to which we can hold writers.

"The end result is a book that tries to imitate the roiling schadenfreude of watching a Twitter meltdown – and hopefully it’s just as entertaining to read”.

Katherine Rundell is a bestselling author for children and adults. 

She won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2014 for Rooftoppers and was shortlisted for the 2022 Waterstones Book of the Year for The Golden Mole.

Oxford Mail: Katherine Rundell

The book shortlisted this year is Impossible Creatures, an adventure through a world of magnificent creatures and ancient, world-shaking secrets with brave heroes to root for.

Ms Rundell said: “I wanted, with Impossible Creatures, to write an adventure that would grab children by the wrist and pull them into a world of magic and mythical creatures: and which would also give adults, if they were to read it, a story about love and power and humanity’s capacity for both evil and miraculous bravery.

“To have Waterstones’s support in getting it into people’s hands is a real joy.’

Chris van Tulleken has a medical degree from Oxford and a PhD in molecular virology from UCL.

He is a practicing infectious diseases doctor in the NHS and one of the UK’s leading science broadcasters.

Oxford Mail: Xand van Tulleken (left) and his brother Chris van Tulleken (right)

Ultra Processed People is an investigation into the science, economics, history and production of ultra-processed food.

He said: “Some of my all-time favourite books and authors have been nominated for Waterstones Book Of The Year, so to find myself on this list and in this company was quite overwhelming."