UK: Publishers and Booksellers Name the 2020 Parliamentary Book Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

The fifth annual Parliamentary Book Awards from the UK’s booksellers’ and publishers’ associations again name three political titles of note.

At Westminster. Image – iStockphoto: Edoardo Oliva

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

Lotinga: ‘All Different, All Brilliant’
As Publishing Perspectives readers may remember, the Parliamentary Book Awards program was established in 2016 by the UK’s Publishers Association and that country’s Booksellers Association, to “champion the best of political writing and celebrate the link between politics and the book world.”

A tidy adjunct to the political books season in the English-language markets, the Parliamentary Book Awards program operates comparatively without fanfare or hyperbole, never seeming to jostle with the legions of other awards programs vying for press attention in the United Kingdom.

Normally announced in a ceremony at the House of Lords, this year’s Parliamentary Book Awards winners were revealed live on The Matt Chorley Show on Times Radio today, with winning authors Chris Bryant and Dan Jarvis on the show along with the former secretary of state for digital culture, media, and sport, Baroness Morgan of Cotes, who wrote Lord North’s profile in The Prime Ministers.

The program has three categories:

  • Memoir by a Parliamentarian
  • Nonfiction Book by a Parliamentarian
  • Political Book by a non-Parliamentarian

And today’s announcement (March 18) of its winners is typically free of hyperbole and salesmanship, a simple, clean presentation of this year’s three winners announced this morning in London.

These are, by the way, properly the 2020 awards, the cycle of this program putting the winners’ announcement into the following. That’s a long way to say it’s not a typo.

Parliamentary Book Awards 2020 Winners

  • Broadcaster Iain Dale has won in the Political Book by a non-Parliamentarian category for The Prime Ministers: 55 Leaders, 55 Authors, 300 Years of History (Hodder & Stoughton), exploring each of the UK’s prime ministers, from lesser-known 18th-century leaders to key historical figures such as Churchill, Attlee, and Thatcher
  • Member of parliament Chris Bryant has been awarded in the Non-Biographical Book by a Parliamentarian category for The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler (Bloomsbury), a history of the young, queer members of parliament who argued against appeasement with Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, and faced persecution and threats of exposure from the British government for their work warning the public about Hitler
  • Member of parliament Dan Jarvis has won the Biography, Memoir or Autobiography by a Parliamentarian honor for Long Way Home (Little, Brown) reflecting on his time serving in the elite Parachute Regiment, as well as the tragic loss of his wife to cancer, and what these experiences taught him about love, life and death

Meryl Halls

In a prepared statement on the announcement of the awards, Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, is quoted, calling the honored titles “three fantastic titles which reflect the high standard of political writing being published today.

“It was wonderful to see the eclectic range of topics being tackled in the shortlist, which explored wartime activism by LGBT+ politicians, the history of political feminism, how to disrupt political norms, and the role of tribalism and identity in an increasingly global society. The Parliamentary Book Awards were launched to demonstrate the importance of books to the world of politics, and this year’s shortlist and winners continue to showcase this important connection.”

Stephen Lotinga

And for the Publishers Association, CEO Stephen Lotinga is quoted, saying, “The Parliamentary Book Awards were established to celebrate the best of political writing.

“The quality of the UK’s political books can be seen in this year’s line-up which offers us personal reflections in Dan Jarvis’ Long Way Home; the story of a brave group of rebel politicians who changed the course of our history in Chris Bryant’s The Glamour Boys; and an overview of all 55 British prime ministers in Iain Dale’s The Prime Ministers.

“All different, all brilliant. Huge congratulations to the winning authors and their publishers.”

The program appears this year to have run at such a low profile that it neglected to tell the news media about its shortlist. We’ll add that for you here:

2020 Shortlist: Biography, Memoir or Autobiography by a Parliamentarian

  • Ernest Bevin; Labour’s Churchill by Andrew Adonis (Biteback)
  • Long Way Home: Love, life, death, and everything in between by Dan Jarvis (Little, Brown/Hachette)
  • Ayes & Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster by David Amess (Luath Press)

2020 Shortlist: Non-Biographical Book by a Parliamentarian

  • The Art of Disruption: A Manifesto For Real Change by Magid Magid (Bonnier)
  • The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler by Chris Bryant (Bloomsbury)
  • Tribes: A Search for Belonging in a Divided Society by David Lammy (Constable/Hachette)

2020 Shortlist: Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian

  • Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister (Pan Macmillan/Picador)
  • The Prime Ministers: 55 Leaders, 55 Authors, 300 Years of History by Iain Dale (Hodder/Hachette)
  • Difficult Women, A History of Feminism in 11 Fights by Helen Lewis, (Vintage/PRH)

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

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.