Political Writings: The UK’s Parliamentary Book Awards Announce Delayed 2019 Shortlists

In News by Porter Anderson

‘Issues that are important to the public today’ are examined in today’s three shortlists that the UK’s Parliamentary Book Awards held back—to let the general election roll through.

2019 Parliamentary Book Awards shortlist

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘The Turbulent Events of Recent Years’
Established in 2016 by the UK’s Publishers Association and Booksellers Association, the Parliamentary Book Awards are devised to “champion the best of political writing and celebrate the link between politics and the book world.”

And the program is the latest in the army of publishing and book awards to make an early-year announcement, in this instance touting a shortlist of titles that touch variously on issues, as one official lists them, of “identity, truth, gender politics, and community.”

As nonfiction in so many international book markets is being buoyed by political interest—maybe political desperation—this sector of the book business already has helped support strong nonfiction sales,  and some of these titles can be expected to be at the leading edge of that trend in the UK market.

As was explained in a small story from The Bookseller staff, the award ceremony for this program originally was set for December 4, but was moved to February 26 because of something fairly political—the UK’s hotly contested general election. As the BBC has reported, that election, according to Brexit secretary Steve Barclay, provided an “overwhelming mandate” for his party “to take the UK out of the EU” on January 31.

So it is that when the delayed awards ceremony occurs late in February, it will happen in a House of Commons no longer in Europe.

The event is to be hosted by Isabel Hardman, who won the prize for a political book by a non-parliamentarian last year. Not to be missed is the resoundingly salient title for which Hardman won: Why We Get the Wrong Politicians from Atlantic Books.

There are three categories in this program, as it announces its shortlists today (January 16):

  • Memoir by a Parliamentarian
  • Non-Biographical Book by a Parliamentarian
  • Political Book by a non-Parliamentarian

Publishers were invited to nominate books and authors for the awards, and the shortlist was drawn up by booksellers. Nominations closed in October. Voting is now open for members of parliament to decide the winner in each category.

Parliamentary Book Awards 2019 Shortlist

Biography or Memoir by a Parliamentarian

  • For the Record by David Cameron (William Collins)
  • This is Our Story: How the Fans Kept Their Hearts Beating by Ian Murray (Luath Press)
  • A British Subject: How to Make It As An Immigrant In the Best Country in the World by Dolar Popat (Biteback Publishing)

Non-Biographical Book by a Parliamentarian

  • Love Without End: A Story of Heloise and Abelard by Melvyn Bragg (Sceptre)
  • Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S. by Jess Phillips (Monoray)
  • Women of Westminster: The MPs who Changed Politics by Rachel Reeves (I.B. Tauris)

Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian

  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez (Chatto & Windus)
  • How to be Right: In A World Gone Wrong by James O’Brien (WH Allen)
  • My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay (Canongate Books)

In a prepared statement, Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, is quoted, saying, “This year’s shortlist of books provides us with important insights into the turbulent events of recent years and shines a light on ideas of the nature of power, identity, and truth in politics.

“I look forward to celebrating all of these important books, their authors, publishers and booksellers at the House of Commons in February.”

And from Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, we read, “The Parliamentary Book Awards recognize the high quality of political writing today, and we look forward to celebrating this year’s fascinating shortlist.

“Selected by British booksellers, this shortlist really show the issues that are important to the public today; identity, truth, gender politics, and community. We are excited to see who our parliamentarians vote for in the coming weeks.”

Past Winners of the Parliamentary Book Awards

In its review of previous winners, it’s interesting to note that the original batch of categories numbered four, not three: there was an award for Fiction by a Parliamentarian. One can be forgiven for musing that perhaps the astonishing nature of today’s outlandish political life has rendered fiction in the field unnecessary.

The 2017 win for Nick Clegg’s How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again) from Penguin Random House’s Bodley Head may have special poignance for many reviewing these lists.

2018

  • Memoir by a Parliamentarian: The Power of Politicians, by Tessa Jowell and Frances D’Souza
  • Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian: Adam Smith: What He Thought and Why it Matters by Jesse Norman
  • Political Book by a non-Parliamentarian: Why We Get the Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman

2017

  • Memoir by a Parliamentarian: A Woman’s Work, by Harriet Harman
  • Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian: How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again), by Nick Clegg
  • Political Book by a non-Parliamentarian: Jo Cox: More in Common by Brendan Cox

2016

  • Memoir by a Parliamentarian: The Long Winding Road, by Alan Johnson
  • Non-Fiction by a Parliamentarian: Called to Account, by Margaret Hodge
  • Fiction by a Parliamentarian: Now is the Time, by Melvyn Bragg
  • Political Book by a non-Parliamentarian: Citizen Clem by John Bew

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here, and more from us on the UK market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.