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Announcing the 2021 Society of Authors’ Awards Shortlists

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Celebrating the transformative power of the written word, in deeply personal stories of Scottish gang culture and addiction, ordinary lives in wartime, the complexity of modern India, alongside an educational illustrated exploration for young readers into the lifecycle of plastic.

The Society of Authors has today (Tuesday 18 May 2021) announced the shortlists for the Betty Trask Prize and Awards, the McKitterick Prize, the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, the third Paul Torday Memorial Prize, and in its second year the Queen’s Knickers Award for illustrated children’s books.

The wide-ranging list of 34 shortlisted writers, poets and illustrators, all with a chance to share an Awards fund of over £100,000, includes: Booker Prize and British Book Awards winner Douglas Stuart for Shuggie Bain; Heartbeat and Holby City actor Sophie Ward for Love and Other Thought Experiments; Nigerian writer and Ph.D. student Nneoma Ike-Njoku for her unpublished novel The Water House; winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year Kiran Millwood Hargreave; lawyer turned children’s author Rashmi Sirdeshpande; 76-year-old debut novelist Elfan Jones; painter, academic, and former editor Karen Raney whose debut novel All the Water in the World is shortlisted for both the McKitterick Prize and the Paul Torday Memorial Prize; and Graeme Armstrong who after battling addiction and spending his teenage years involved in North Lanarkshire gang culture, now joins the shortlist for the Betty Trask Prize and Awards with his debut novel.

Each year, in an exceptional and broad line-up of prizes, the Society of Authors’ Awards showcases inclusivity in writing. Never limited by celebrating only one author for a single work, the Awards demonstrate that successful authors’ careers can and should begin anywhere at any time, regardless of background or age.

The winners will be announced online on Wednesday 9 June 2021, in an online ceremony presented by novelist Joanne Harris, sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS).

The Society of Authors’ Awards has rewarded the early works of some of today’s most prominent literary figures such as Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon, and honoured the careers of established figures including Dylan Thomas, Fay Weldon, Linton Kwesi Johnson, William Golding and Margaret Drabble.

The 2021 shortlists

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Judged by Claire Fuller, Sophie Haydock, Billy Kahora, Ardashir Vakil and Mary Watson.

Eventually Meeting the Sky Somewhere by Maeve O’Lynn

The Hopelessness of Hope by Sean Lusk

The House of Wild Beasts by Anne Aylor

I Told You Not to Fly So High by DM O’Connor

Swanskin by Alison Littlewood

What The Deal Is by Dafydd Mills Daniel

Betty Trask Prize & Awards

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Judged by Sara Collins, Elanor Dymott and Vaseem Khan.

Bad Love by Maame Blue (Jacaranda Books)

The Last Good Man by Thomas McMullan (Bloomsbury)

The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams (William Heinemann, Cornerstone PRH)

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Pan Macmillan, Picador)

The Water House by Nneoma Ike-Njoku (Unpublished)

The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong (Pan Macmillan, Picador)

The McKitterick Prize

The McKitterick Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer over 40. Judged by Sabrina Mahfouz, Nick Rennison and Christopher Tayler.

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney (John Murray Press, Two Roads)

The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean (William Heinemann, Cornerstone PRH UK)

As You Were by Elaine Feeney (Harvill Secker, VINTAGE)

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Chatto & Windus, VINTAGE)

Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward (Little, Brown Book Group, Corsair)

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Pan Macmillan / Picador)

The Queen’s Knickers Award

Now in its second year, this annual prize, founded by Nicholas Allan, author of The Queen’s Knickers, is awarded for an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. It will recognise books that strike a quirky, new note and grab the attention of a child, whether this be in the form of curiosity, amusement, horror or excitement. Judged by Alexis Deacon, Patrice Lawrence and Tony Ross.

The Diddle that Dummed written by Kes Gray, illustrated by Fred Blunt (Hachette Children’s Group)

The Gobbledegook Book written by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Giselle Clarkson (Gecko Press)

Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Plastic written by Katie Daynes, illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay (Usborne)

Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise written and illustrated by Alex T. Smith (Hachette Children’s Group, Hodder Children’s Books)

Never Show a T-Rex a Book written by Rashmi Sirdeshpande, illustrated by Diane Ewen (Puffin)

The Pirates are Coming! written by John Condon, illustrated by Matt Hunt (Nosy Crow)

Paul Torday Memorial Prize

Now in its third year, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Judged by Paul Bailey, Roopa Farooki and Anne Youngson.

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney (John Murray, Two Roads)
Dirt Clean by Judith Amanthis (Victorina Press)
In Love with George Eliot by Kathy O’Shaughnessy (Scribe UK)
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Elfan Jones (Unbound)
The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus)

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