UK Political Writings: Parliamentary Book Awards Shortlist

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

‘Some of the most influential books yet’ are featured in the 11 titles shortlisted for the eighth round of Parliamentary Book Awards.

A shot taken December 26, 2023. Image — Getty iStockphoto: Ogulcan Aksoy

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

‘A Huge Range of Opinions’
The eighth cycle of the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association‘s and Booksellers Association‘s Parliamentary Book Awards this month has closed its voting period during which parliamentarians have voted on the program’s three categories’ shortlists.

Those categories, all in writings by parliamentarians, are:

  • Nonfiction or Fiction
  • Memoir/Autobiography
  • Political Book

An awards program that really should and could be emulated by other governing bodies in world publishing, this effort is intended “to champion the best of political writing and celebrate the link between politics and the book world.”

As we’ve mentioned in the past, this program arrives annually free of ostentatious digs at other awards programs, seemingly happy to simply work out the best books in its own categories and then cheer them at a gathering in Westminster.

And some of this may be thanks to how the Parliamentary Book Awards provide us with an entertaining distinction: they are not all written by seasoned authors, nor—perhaps in most cases—not even by people who have done such a thing in the past or plan to do such a thing in the future. Literate (we hope) and often quite well spoken, the legislative luminaries and/or lowlights (your choice) behind these books can be refreshing in part for the precise reason that they’re not always folks who think of themselves as book authors.

Much of the content they may tackle can have direct societal and timely value.

Dan Conway

In a comment from the Publishers Association’s CEO Dan Conway, we read, “The Parliamentary Book Awards aim to spotlight the very best in political writing, and the last year has offered some of the most influential books yet.

“This years’ shortlist is really varied, with something for everyone. I look forward to seeing the results of the voting next year, and welcoming parliamentarians, authors, publishers, and booksellers to the House of Commons once again in February, to celebrate these important books.”

Meryl Halls

And Meryl Halls, the Booksellers Association’s managing director, says, “The Parliamentary Book Awards is such a unique event in the awards calendar and booksellers love being part of the shortlisting process.

“The awards highlight the huge range of opinions across the political spectrum and this year’s shortlist is no exception. I’m hugely looking forward to the ceremony in February and can’t wait to see which titles parliamentarians pick as the winners.”

UK Parliamentary Book Awards: 2023 Shortlist

The program expects to present its three winners with awards at Westminster’s Houses of Parliament in February.

Nonfiction or Fiction by a Parliamentarian

Memoir or Autobiography by a Parliamentarian

Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian

A Note on Timing

As is the case with several book and publishing competitions, the Parliamentary Book Awards’ winners are numbered for the previous year. Thus the shortlist in question was first circulated for the consideration of voting parliamentarians in mid-December, and this stage is part of the 2023 cycle of awards in progress, despite the fact that we all now seem resolutely installed in 2024.

While this is not a terribly unusual situation, of course, it does have a way of making an awards program look out of date, if not de trop, at the very moment its winners are announced and probably should be given a chance to look as au courant as possible. This round’s top titles will be named in February of 2024, for example, but they will be called last year’s prize winners, the 2023 laureates.

In such an instance, perhaps it’s worth considering adjusting a program’s schedule in order to get its process and outcome into a single year. Alternatively, a simple date change a given year’s competition could bring things into what might seem more immediacy and give the honored writers their deserved placed in the warm sun of timeliness.

More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here, more from us on the United Kingdom’s book market is here, more on the Publishers Association is here, more on nonfiction is here, and more on political books 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.