Winners Honored in the Society of Authors’ 2023 Awards

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Thirty writers, poets, and illustrators have been named in this year’s Society of Author awards program at Southwark Cathedral.

At the Society of Authors’ 2023 awards program in the nave of Southwark Cathedral. Image: SoA video

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

A Total £111,000 in Prize Money
Our Publishing Perspectives readership is very aware, of course, of the Society of Authors’ administration of a large roster of awards in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short stories, longer forms, and children’s content—a group of 11 honors that in the aggregate provide some £111,000 in prize money (US$142,200).

This year’s winners were named at a summer party on June 29, and the organization returned for the occasion to the nave of the elegiac Southwark Cathedral, with its Shakespeare connections from its 16th-century identity as St. Saviour’s represented in stained glass, inscriptions, and sculpture.

This was also the venue earlier this spring for HarperCollins UK’s extraordinarily moving memorial for the late Hilary Mantel.

Once again, the author Joanne Harris officiated, with the tartan noir author Val McDermid providing a keynote address to what we’re told was a gathering of more than 300 winners, jurors, and others, the event sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

Val McDermid

In her comments, McDermid told her audience—in her buoyant Fife dialect—that “This is a time to celebrate success” and “to make notes of writers who may have slipped past us.

“This is a time for us to acknowledge the writers who have changed the way we look at the world around us,” she said. “This is the time for us to revel in the power of imagination to transport us into someone else’s vision of the world.

“This is the time for us to embrace the creativity that brings our words into other people’s hearts and heads. This is the time to make our voices heard.”

The 2023 Society of Authors awards ceremony program can be downloaded here

The honorees this year numbered 30 writers, poets, and illustrators, some of them being recognized for their debut publications, others in more advanced stages of their careers.

Of special interest this time was a newly added award, the Authors With Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses Prize (ADCI), which went to the British-American Seattle-based author Nicola Griffith for Spear (TorDotCom, April 2022). The book is a gay recasting of Arthurian legendry in which, as juror Penny Batchelor  put it, “those usually airbrushed from history take center stage.”

Here is a listing of the awards conferred, with a reminder that the Society of Authors’ suite of eight translation awards are handled separately, and were presented on February 8 with some £15,000 of prize money attached (US$19,138). You’ll find our coverage of those important translation awards here.

Winners of the 2023 Society of Authors Awards

The Authors With Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses (ADCI) Literary Prize

  • Sponsored by Arts Council England, ALCS, the Drusilla Harvey Memorial Fund, the Professional Writing Academy
  • Awarded to a disabled or chronically ill writer, for an outstanding novel containing a disabled or chronically ill character or characters
  • Juried by Penny Batchelor, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Nydia Hebden, Karl Knights, Julia Lund, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Vikki Patis, and Chloe Timms
  • Total prize fund: £2,000 (US$2,555)
  • Winner: Nicola Griffith for Spear (TorDotCom), awarded £1,250 (US$1,598)
  • Also awarded: £750 (US$958) to Fiona Scott Barrett for The Exit Facility

Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) Tom-Gallon Trust Award

  • Sponsored by the ALCS and Hawthornden Foundation
  • Awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication
  • Juried by Claire Fuller, Sophie Haydock, Billy Kahora and Mary Watson
  • Total prize fund: £5,000 (US$6,392)
  • Winner: Ciaran Folan for “A Day,” awarded £2,000 (US$2,555)
  • Also awarded: £1,000 (US$1,278) to Karen Stevens for “Among the Crows”, and £500 (US$639) each to Joe Bedford, Kerry Hood, Niamh Mac Cabe, and Lishani Ramanayake

Betty Trask Prize

  • Awarded for a first novel by a writer younger than 35
  • Juried by Sara Collins, Michael Donkor and Alex Preston
  • Total prize fund: £26,200 (US$33,531)
  • Winner: Daniel Wiles for Mercia’s Take (Swift Press), awarded £10,000 (US$12,800)

Cholmondeley Awards

  • Awarded for a body of work by a poet and contribution to poetry
  • Juried by Moniza Alvi, Hannah Lowe, Drew Milne and Deryn Rees-Jones
  • Total prize fund: £8,000 (US$10,249)
  • Six winners: Caroline Bird, Jane Draycott, Greta Stoddart, Michael Symmons Roberts, Jackie Wills, and Tamar Yoseloff, each receiving £1,400 (US$1794)

Eric Gregory Awards

  • Awarded for a collection of poems by a writer younger than 30
  • Juried by Raymond Antrobus, Eric Ngalle Charles, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sarah Howe, Gwyneth Lewis and Joelle Taylor
  • Total prize fund: £28,350 (US$36,366)
  • Six winners: Princess Arinola Adegbite, Jay Gao, Charlotte Shevchenko Knight, Mukahang Limbu, Momtaza Mehri, and Helen Quah, each receiving £4,725 (US$6,061)

Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize

  • Awarded to a United Kingdom or Irish writer currently resident in either of those countries, for a novel focused on travel away from home
  • Juried by Aamer Hussein, Zeba Talkhani, and Kerry Young
  • Total prize fund: £2,750 (US$3,527)
  • Winner: Aamina Ahmed for The Return of Faraz Ali (Hachette UK/Hodder & Stoughton/Scepter), awarded £2,000 (US$2,555)
  • Also awarded: £750 (US$958) to David Park for Spies in Canaan (Bloomsbury)

McKitterick Prize

  • Sponsored by the Hawthornden Foundation
  • Awarded for a first novel by a writer older than 40
  • Juried by Selma Dabbagh, Rebecca Foster, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Anietie Isong, and Nick Rennison
  • Total prize fund: £10,000 (US$12,822)
  • Winner: Louise Kennedy for Tresspasses (Bloomsbury), awarded £4,000 (US$5,129)
  • Also awarded: £2,000 (US$2,555) to Liz Hyder for The Gifts (Bonnier Books UK/Manilla Press) and £1,000(US$1,278) each to shortlistees Ayanna Lloyd Banwo, Liz Hyder, Joanna Quinn and Taymour Soomro

Paul Torday Memorial Prize

  • Sponsored by the Hawthornden Foundation
  • Awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60
  • Juried by Rasheda Ashanti Malcolm, Kathy O’Shaughnessy, and Andrew Taylor
  • Total prize fund: £4,000 (US$5,109) and a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday
  • Winner: Bonnie Garmus for Lessons in Chemistry (Penguin Random House/Doubleday), awarded: £3,000 (US$3,832)
  • Also awarded: £1,000 (US$1,278) to Julie Owen Moylan for That Green Eyed Girl (Penguin Random House/Michael Joseph)

Queen’s Knickers Award

  • Sponsored by Nicholas Allan
  • Awarded for a children’s original illustrated book for ages up to 7 years
  • Juried by Smriti Halls, Sarah McIntyre, and Ken Wilson- Max
  • Total prize fund: £6,000 (US$7,695)
  • Winner: Olaf Falafel for Blobfish (Walker Books), awarded £5,000 (US$6,392)
  • Also awarded: John Agard and illustrator Satoshi Kitamura for When Creature Met Creature (Scallywag Press)

Somerset Maugham Awards

  • Awarded for published works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry by writers younger than 30
  • Juried by Fred D’Aguiar, Ardashir Vakil, and Roseanne Watt
  • Total prize fund: £16,200 (US$20,786)
  • Winners, Travis Alabanza, Sussie Anie, Mya-Rose Craig, Jay Gao, Gurnaik Johal, and Moses McKenzie, each awarded £2,700 (US$3,469)

Traveling Scholarships

  • Awarded to enable international engagement for writers
  • Juried by Emily Barr, Gabriel Gbadamosi, Anne McElvoy, Alvin Pang, and Philip Terry
  • Total prize fund: £8,000 (US$10,264)
  • Winners: Sulaiman Addonia, Tim Atkins, Anjali Joseph, Piers Torday, and Jen Stout, each awarded £1,600 (US$2,052)

More on various awards of the Society of Authors’ program is here. And below is the video of the winners’ event at Southward Cathedral:


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.

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 (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.

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