The UK’s Society of Authors Adds a New Disability-Focused Book Award

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The Society of Authors in London opens its 2023 submission program, having awarded 32 writers and illustrators with 2022 prizes.

At the Society of Authors’ 2022 awards program at Southwark Cathedral are, from left, presenter Lemn Sissay, Betty Trask Prize winner Will McPhail, and host Joanne Harris. Image: Society of Authors, Adrian Pope

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

More than £100,000 Awarded This Year
As the Society of Authors in London opens its 2023 call for awards program submission, we also want to report the winners of the 2022 edition of this complex of awards operated by the trade union. These wins originally were announced during the world industry’s springtime crush of international book fairs and trade shows.

The call for entries we have today (August 5) is for nine prizes. One of them is new, an “ADCI Literary Prize,” the acronym standing for “authors with disabilities and chronic illnesses.”

That one will be naming its first winner in this cycle, and the purpose there is to find work that includes disability or a chronically ill character or characters. For those interested in details on that competition and on the opening of submissions for it and eight other society-managed programs, more is here.

This year’s group of 32 winners took home a total of more than £100,000 in winnings (US$120,339). We’ll embed a copy of the presentation for you, the event having been set again at Southwark Cathedral.

There was a newly introduced contest with a winner named this year, as well, the “Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize,” focused on “travel away from home,” speaking of those far-flung book fairs and trade shows. Despite the deeply crowded field of book and publishing contests vying for press attention, the industry, particularly in England, continues to create new accolades. It’s hard to think that there’s a single title left on a bookshop table on the high street without a golden sticker already on it.

Society of Authors 2022 Book Prize Winners

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and honors a short story with a purse of £1,575 (US$1,911). It was juried this year by Claire Fuller, Sophie Haydock, Billy Kahora, and Mary Watson.

  • Kanya D’Almedia won £1,000 (US$1,213) for “I Cleaned the–”
  • Dean Gessie won £575 (US$697) as runner-up for “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump”

The Betty Trask Prize goes to a first novel by a writer younger than 35. It was juried by Sara Collins, Michael Donkor, and Alex Presto and provides a total purse of £26,200 (US$31804).

  • Will McPhail: £10,000 (US$12,139) for In: The Graphic Novel (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Megan Nolan: £4,050 (US$4,915) for Acts of Desperation (Penguin Random House, Jonathan Cape)
  • Natasha Brown: £4,050 (US$4,915) for Assembly (Penguin General, Hamish Hamilton)
  • Caleb Azumah Nelson: £4,050 (US$4,915) for Open Water (Penuing Random House, Viking)
  • AK Blakemore: £4,050 (US$4,915) for The Maningtree Witches (Granta Books)

The Cholmondelay Award pays £1,680 (US$2,038) each to five winners for a total £8,400 (US$10,196) for a body of work by a poet. Jurors this year were Moniza Alvi, Hannah Lowe, Drew Milne, and Deryn Rees-Jones.

  • Menna Elfyn
  • David Kinloch
  • Tiffany Atkinson
  • Gerry Loose
  • Maggie O’Sullivan

The Eric Gregory Award pays £4,050 (US$4,915) to each of seven winners for a total £28,350 for a collection of poetry by someone younger than 30. This year’s jurors: Raymond Antrobus, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sarah Howe, Gwyneth Lewis, Roger Robinson, and Joelle Taylor.

  • Stephanie Sy-Quia, Amnion
  • Daniella Fearon, The Monochrome Lens
  • Jack Cooper, Break the Nose of Every Beautiful Thing
  • Maisie Newman, Our Names Were Oil
  • Courtney Conrad, Revelations
  • Rhiya Pau, Routes
  • Joe Carrick-Varty, Sky Doc

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize awards £2,750 for a novel on the experience of travel away from home. It was created in honor of Malcolm Lowry and endowed by Gordon Bowker, his biographer, and Ramdei Bowker. This year’s jurors: Caroline Brothers, Philip Hensher and Aamer Hussein.

  • Sheila Llewellyn, Winter in Tabriz (Hodder & Stoughton, Sceptre)

The McKitterick Prize recognizes a writer older than 40 with £5,250 (US$6,345) and was juried this year by Selma Dabbagh, Rebecca Foster, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Anietie Isong and Nick Rennison.

  • David Annand won £4,000 (US$4,834) for Peterdown (Little Brown Group, Corsair)
  • Lisa Taddeo won £1,250  (US$1510) as runner-up for Animal (Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Circus)

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a writer older than 60, pays £1,000 (US$1,207) and was juried by Mavis Cheek, Denise Mina and Donald S Murray.

  • Jane Frazer, Advent (Honno Press)

The Queen’s Knickers Award honors a children’s original illustrated book for ages under 7 and younger with £6,000 (US$7,246) and was juried this year by Lauren Child, Petr Horácek and Patrice Lawrence.

  • Alastair Chisholm and David Roberts won £5,000 (US$6,038) Inch and Grub (Walker Books)
  • Mick Jackson and John Broadley won £1,000 (US$1,207) as a runner-up prize for While You’re Sleeping ( Pavilion Children’s Books)

The Somerset Maugham Award pays £3,200 (US$3,865) to each of five writers younger than 30 of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. It was juried this year by Fred D’Aguiar, Ardashir Vakil, and Roseanne Watt. The total payout of this one is £16,000 (US$19,313).

  • Stephanie Sy-Quia, Amnion (Granta, Granta Poetry)
  • Tice Cin, Keeping the House (And Other Stories)
  • Lucia Osborne-Crowley, My Body Keeps Your Secrets (Indigo Press)
  • Caleb Azumah Nelson, Open Water (Penuing Random House, Viking)
  • Maia Elsner, Overrun by Wild Boars (Flipped Eye Publishing)

Traveling Scholarships have gone to six writers, each of them paid £1,333.33 (US$1,719) for a total payout in this contest of £8,000 (US$9,639), with jurors Tahmima Anam, Aida Edemariam, Gabriel Gbadamosi, Anne McElvoy and Abir Mukherjee.

  • Linda Brogan
  • Maame Blue
  • Dylan Moore
  • Ayisha Malik
  • Ben Judah
  • Alice Albinia

Here’s a video of the event this year, from early June.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 136th awards-related report in the 142 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

We urge publishing professionals to spend 10 minutes responding to the current survey of book awards’ dynamics and values. The survey can be accessed here, and it’s open through August 15. More on this is here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here, and more on the Society of Authors is here. More on the United Kingdom’s awards-busy market 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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (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.

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