British Book Awards Judges

Books of the Year judges

  • Cathy Rentzenbrink
    Chair of Books of the Year and Non Fiction - Narrative Book of the Year
    Cathy is Contributing Editor at The Bookseller. Her memoir The Last Act of Love was a Sunday Times bestseller and her next book will be published in 2017. Cathy speaks and writes regularly on literacy, literature and everything in between and is happiest when talking to strangers about books. She tweets as @Cathyreadsbooks.
  • Matt Bates
    Chair of Debut Fiction Book of the Year
    Matt Bates is the Fiction Buyer for WH Smith Travel. He has been rated as one of the Top 1000 most influential Londoners in the Evening Standard, and is an Associate Vice President of the Romantic Novelists Association. In 2013 he judged the Historical Novelists Society International Award, and has contributed to book related articles in The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Bookseller and Writers Forum magazine. In 2015 he was awarded Bookseller of the Year by the RNA.
  • Caroline Sanderson
    Chair of Non Fiction - Lifestyle Book of the Year
    Caroline is Associate Editor and non-fiction previewer for The Bookseller. She is also the editor of ALCS News, the online magazine of the Authors Licensing & Collecting Society; and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Worcester. Caroline is the author of five non-fiction books, including ‘A Rambling Fancy: In the Footsteps of Jane Austen’; and ‘Someone Like Adele'. She is a regular broadcaster, and co-hosts a monthly book club on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Caroline regularly chairs events at literary festivals, and is a judge for the Wales Book of the Year 2016.
  • Fiona Noble
    Chair of Children's Book of the Year
    Fiona Noble is the Children's & YA Previews Editor for The Bookseller and a freelance children's books consultant. Fiona has over 20 years experience of the children's book world, starting out as a Saturday library assistant aged 16, and has gone on to work in a variety of bookselling and publishing roles, including Children's Books Manager for the Ottakar's book chain.
  • Alice O'Keeffe
    Chair of Fiction Book of the Year
    Alice O’Keeffe is the Books Editor at The Bookseller and so is lucky enough to read books for a living. She interviews authors for The Bookseller’s weekly author profile slot and writes about all the wonderful new fiction published each month in an overview that covers all genres. Alice began her career in books as a buyer at Book Club Associates before moving to and joined The Bookseller in 2008.
  • Joseph Knox
    Chair of Crime & Thriller Book of the Year
    Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively. His first novel, Sirens, is out in January 2017.
  • Sarah Shaffi
    Deputy chair, Books of the Year
    Sarah Shaffi is The Bookseller’s online editor and producer, and previous to this was senior reporter at The Bookseller. She is the co-founder of BAME in Publishing, and tweets @sarahshaffi.
  • Sam Baker
    The Pool
    Co-founder and c.e.o.
    Sam Baker grew up in Hampshire and after a degree in politics at Birmingham University became a journalist. She has edited some of the UK’s biggest magazines, including Cosmopolitan, and was Editor in Chief of Red for six years. In 2015 she co-founded The Pool, the online platform that makes inspiring and original content for busy women. Her novel, The Woman Who Ran, was published in 2016. Sam tweets as @sambaker.
  • Damian Barr
    Damian Barr is an award-winning writer, columnist and salonnière. Maggie & Me, his memoir about coming of age and coming out in Thatcher's Britain, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and Sunday Times Memoir of the Year, winning the Paddy Power Political Books 'Satire' Award and Stonewall Writer of the Year.
  • June Sarpong
    June Sarpong has enjoyed a 20-year career which has already seen her become one of the most recognisable faces of British television, as well as being one of the UK’s most intelligent and dynamic young hosts. June has also taken on the world’s most challenging live audiences, hosting 2005’s major Make Poverty History event in London’s Trafalgar Square and presenting at the UK leg of Live Earth in 2007. In 2008 alongside Will Smith she also hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park.
  • Dorothy Koomson
    Author and journalist
    Dorothy Koomson grew up in London. Her first book was released in 2003, and her third novel, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads Book Club.
  • Peter Florence
    Hay Festival
    Peter Florence is director of the Hay Festival.
  • Alison Finch
    BBC Radio 4
    Alison Finch has worked in forward planning for BBC Radio 4, covering books, theatre and music, since 1985, advising Front Row, Open Book, Saturday Review, Woman’s Hour, Loose Ends, Start the Week and Saturday Live on booking guests.
  • Arifa Akbar
    Freelance journalist, critic and columnist
    Arifa Akbar is a freelance journalist, critic and columnist. She is a regular newspaper reviewer on Sky News and writes for the FT and The Pool. She is the deputy editor of Wasafiri magazine of international contemporary writing and the curator of M-Fest: a Muslim Festival of Books and Ideas, launching in 2018. She is a trustee on the board of the Orwell Prize and on the advisory committee for EnglishPEN’s writing in translation programme. Arifa is the former literary editor of The Independent where she worked from 2001 until April 2016, as a news reporter and an arts correspondent before joining the books desk. She has judged many prizes including the Orwell Prize 2013, the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014 and the British Bookseller Industry Award 2016, the Aesthetica Magazine’s short story competition for the third year in 2016. She has chaired author interviews at the London Literature Festival, Bath Literature Festival, Bradford Literature Festival, Foyles and Asia House, among others. She has interviewed authors ranging from Kamila Shamsie to Tracey Chevalier Sebastian Faulks, Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke.
  • David Solomons
    David Solomons grew up in the suburbs of Glasgow, where he spent most of his time playing with his Star Wars figures and trying to make toy lightsabers jump into his hand using only the power of the Force and a rubber-band. When informed at the age of four and a half that he had to wear glasses, he complained that James Bond didn’t wear glasses and went off in a huff. The huff lasted several years. He now lives in Dorset with his wife, the novelist Natasha Solomons, and their son and daughter, Luke and Lara. He is over the fact of having to wear specs, but can still muster an impressive huff. His first novel for children, My Brother is a Superhero, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2016 and the British Book Industry Award’s Children’s Book of the Year 2016. My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord is the second book in the series. The third, My Evil Twin is a Supervillain, will be published in July 2017. Rights in the books have to date been sold to 16 territories, all of them on planet Earth. So far.
  • Eric Karl Andersen
    Eric Karl Anderson is an American-born writer who has lived in London for over a decade and runs Previously a judge of the Lambda Literary Awards and the 2015 Green Carnation Prize, he’s author of the novel ENOUGH which won the Pearl Street Publishing First Book Prize. Eric reviews new publications on the academic site Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies. Find him on Twitter @LonesomeReader
  • Fanny Blake
    Journalist and writer
    Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written various non-fiction titles, acted as a ghost writer for a number of celebrities and is also books editor of Woman & Home. She has written five novels including Women of a Dangerous Age and House of Dreams. Her new novel Our Summer Together (Orion) will be published in in July 2017.
  • Hannah Trevarthen
    English PEN
    Events and development manager
    Hannah Trevarthen is events and development manager at English PEN managing their year-round programme of high profile events. Prior to joining English PEN, Hannah worked as Assistant Programmer at Edinburgh International Book Festival and as a freelance events coordinator.
  • Jake Kerridge
    Jake Kerridge is a journalist, reviewer and interview specialising in arts and books. Since 2005 he has taken an unhealthy interest in violence and murder as the crime fiction critic of the Daily Telegraph.
  • Juno Dawson
    Queen of Teen 2014 Juno Dawson is the multi award-winning author of six novels for young adults. In 2016, she authored the best-selling World Book Day title: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE.
  • Katie Law
    The Evening Standard
    Deputy literary editor
    Katie Law is the longstanding deputy literary editor and a staff writer for The London Evening Standard. She writes on a variety of subjects ranging from arts and author interviews to features on design news and trends.
  • Lucy Menendez
    WH Smith
  • Richard Humphreys
    Richard Humphreys has been a vookseller for over 20 years, first joining Books Etc in 1994. He has worked in a number of bookshops in central London, and shortly after Borders purchased Books Etc in 1997 he began his buying career at Charing Cross Road where he was the fiction and crime buyer for Borders and then over time moved to a variety of roles, specialising in non-fiction. He joined Waterstones in 2010 as the academic buyer, and since 2012 has headed up the non-fiction buying team.
  • Sandeep Mahal
    Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature
    Sandeep Mahal is Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. She started her career in public libraries before moving to The Reading Agency, where she led a powerful partnership consortium transforming the way UK publishers collaborated with the UK public library network. Previous to this Sandeep was Director of The Space – a commissioning agency supporting greater digital access to the arts, co-funded by Arts Council England and the BBC. She’s a trustee of London’s literature development agency, Spread the Word and a Literary Consultant at Slam Films where she works with Slam’s creative team on all literary acquisitions. She was a judge for the Fiction Uncovered Prize in 2013 and awarded a fellowship from the Clore Cultural Institute in the same year.
  • Sheila O'Reilly
    Village Books
    Events manager
    Sheila O'Reilly is events manager at Village Books in Dulwich Village. She has been a bookseller for 18 years, during which time as owner of Dulwich Books, the shop was voted the UK and Ireland's Independent Bookshop of the Year 2014. Sheila has also served as a Costa Book Award biography judge, and a judge of the Independent Booksellers Week Book Award, and, most recently, a judge of the International Bookstore of the Year Award London Book Fair 2017.
  • Tamara Macfarlane
    Tales on Moon Lane
    Tamara Macfarlane is a children's author and the owner of Tales on Moon Lane, an award winning Children's Bookshop. She also owns Moon Lane Education, supplying children's books to schools, and Moon Lane Ink, a new social venture running Pop-Up Bookshop Enterprise Days in Secondary Schools. Tamara is passionate about increasing every child's access to books.
  • Tricia Adams
    School Library Association
    As a professional librarian Tricia Adams has worked in several sectors including government libraries and as a self-employed information specialist before coming back to working with children for the last 20+ years. This has included a spell as a primary school librarian, before moving back to public libraries in her home county of Northamptonshire, where she has been head of children’s and young people’s public library services and the manager of the Schools’ Library Service – Learning Resources for Education. She has been director of the School Library Association (an independent charity) since 2008, and chair of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judging panel and Youth Libraries Group during 2008, and is fulfilling those roles again in 2017.
  • Alex Clark
    The Guardian
    Alex Clark is a British literary journalist and editor who has written for The Guardian, The Observer and the Times Literary Supplement. She also hosts the Vintage Podcast about books.
  • Dreda Say Mitchell
    Born and bred in the East End of London, Dreda Say Mitchell has seen it all from the inside. After a string of jobs as a waitress, chambermaid and catering assistant she realised her dream of becoming a teacher. During this time she saw a new generation of East Enders grappling with the same problems she had but in an even more violent and unforgiving world. Dreda's books are inspired by the gritty, tough and criminal world she grew up in. She still lives in London's East End. In 2016, she became a Reading Ambassador for the Reading Agency to promote literacy and libraries. Website: Facebook: /dredasaymitchell Twitter: @DredaMitchell
  • Lorraine Pascale
    Dubbed the queen of baking, Lorraine Pascale is a bestselling chef and author with one million books sold. Having spent her teenage years as a catwalk model alongside Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, Lorraine embarked on a more stable career within patisserie bakery during her early twenties. After gaining a first class honours in Culinary Arts Management (Patisserie) at the University of West London, she opened her own Patisserie in Covent Garden which she ran very successfully for 5 years. Lorraine's skills have made her one of the UK’s most talented, versatile and qualified chefs, with numerous BBC cookery programmes, including ‘Baking Made Easy’, ‘Home Cooking Made Easy’ and 'Fast, Fresh and Easy Food’. Lorraine's passion and expertise captivate audiences around the UK with after dinner speaking, motivational talks and awards presentations as well as encouraging her army of cookery fans with live chats on Facebook, tutorials on YouTube and other social media platforms. 2017 sees Lorraine release her beautiful brand new book, BAKE, with 125 recipes making it easy for home bakers to create show-stopping bakes that will delight friends and family in one of her most comprehensive baking books yet.
  • Charlotte Colwill
    Head of children's books
    Charlotte Colwill has been a bookseller, in Melbourne and London, for 8 years, and is currently the Head of Children's Books at the flagship Foyles shop on Charing Cross Road.
  • Robbie Millen
    The Times
    Literary editor
    Robbie Millen is literary editor of The Times. Before that he was deputy comment editor. Norman Mailer once told him that "if I was ten years younger I'd box your ears". He tweets @RobbieTimes
  • Karen Brindle
    Karen joined the Books team in 2015 having previously worked in a number of commercial roles within Tesco over the past 16 years. She has always loved reading so is enjoying being able to combine a personal passion with her professional role.
  • Ted Hodgkinson
    Southbank Centre
    Senior programmer, literature and spoken word
    Ted Hodgkinson is Senior Programmer for Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre. Former online editor of Granta, he has written for a variety of publications and websites, including the Independent, the Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review, the Spectator and Literary Hub. As a broadcaster and chair he hosted the Granta podcast, appears on radio programmes including BBC Radio 4's Open Book and interviews writers at a range of international festivals. He is also a former literature programmer for the British Council, specialising in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In 2012 he judged the Costa Poetry Award and in 2016 he judged the BBC National Short Story Award. This year he is a judge for The British Book Awards Books of the Year in the category of best debut and Royal Society of Literature Encore Award for the best second novel.
  • Sharmaine Lovegrove
    Literary, film and TV scout and literary editor
    Sharmaine Lovegrove is a literary, film and TV scout and literary editor. She is co-founder and publishing director at Dialogue Scouting LTD, the UK’s first book to film & TV scouting consultancy as well as being ELLE’s Literary Editor. Prior to setting up Dialogue Scouting she set up her own bookshop & creative consultancy in Berlin. She has worked in PR, bookselling, event management and digital consultancy and considers storytelling a fundamental part of society.
  • Dan Mucha
    Amazon UK
    Director for books
    Dan is director for books at Amazon UK, based in London, where he is responsible for managing Amazon’s physical books business, working closely with publishers and authors to ensure readers have access to the widest selection of books on Amazon. Prior to taking this role in May 2015, Dan was director for Kindle Content, responsible for the education segment, based in Seattle. Before joining Amazon in 2012, Dan worked in digital media for Msnbc and as a management consultant with McKinsey. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Rachel Foster
    Books editor
    Rachel Foster joined the two founders of mumsnet in 2001 when the site was still in its infancy. In 2006 she took on the role of books editor, when it became clear that the community were keen to discuss books - both for children and adults. Since then she has managed the site's book club, literary events and regular author webchats.
  • Claire Armitstead
    Guardian and Observer
    Books editor
    Claire Armitstead is books editor for the Guardian and Observer. She presents the weekly Guardian books podcast and is a regular commentator on radio, and at live events across the UK and internationally
  • Chris White
    Fiction buyer
    Chris started his bookselling career at Hatchards and has been Waterstones fiction buyer for the last four years. During that time he has been a judge for the Romantic Novelist Association Awards, the UCL Short Story Competition and is responsible for the Waterstones Book Club selection. In 2014 he was named a Bookseller Rising Star.

Trade judges

  • Philip Jones
    The Bookseller
    Philip is editor of The Bookseller, a position he took up in August 2012. Before that he was deputy editor, having first joined the magazine in 1996. He was its web editor for 10 years, having helped launch in 1998. He is a regular commentator on book trade matters on radio, TV and in the broadsheet newspapers.
  • Amanda Wood
    Author, consultant and chairman of Bright International Illustration Agency
    Amanda Wood has been involved in the creation of books for nearly 40 years, initially as a natural history illustrator, then as one of the founder directors of Templar Publishing – one of the leading independent publishers of children’s books – before selling the company to the Bonnier Group in 2008. She now creates a small number of titles for an international list of clients and works as a consultant, author and chairman of Bright International Illustration Agency.
  • James Spackman
    Publisher, Pursuit
    James Spackman is Publisher of Pursuit, a new imprint of Profile Books devoted to cycling. Alongside this, he provides consultancy on marketing and strategy as well as workshops on presentation (Pitch Doctor) and copywriting (Copy Lab).  James was previously MD of Watkins Publishing (Osprey Group), following sales and marketing roles at Bloomsbury, John Murray and Hodder. He can be found on Twitter @Blackpooltower
  • Kate McFarlan
    Strategic director
    Kate has over 30 years’ experience in the publishing supply chain, from the perspective of first publisher then printer. She joined Penguin in 1982, starting as a copy editor and finishing as group publishing operations manager. Kate moved to Clays in 1997, becoming managing director in 2008 and strategic director in 2014. Clays has led the way in shaping and changing the role of the printer to support the new landscape for publishers, booksellers and consumers.
  • Nick Barley
    Edinburgh International Book Festival
    Nick Barley has been director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival since October 2009. Innovations during his directorship include Unbound, a free evening mini-festival of literary performances; the 2012 Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference which took place in 17 cities worldwide; and a Fringe First-winning promenade theatre production, Letters Home, co-produced with Grid Iron Theatre Company in 2014. Nick Barley is chair of the judging panel for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize and President of the Word Alliance – an international network of the world’s leading literary festivals.
  • Adrian Driscoll
    Aimer Media
    Co-founder and director
    Adrian Driscoll was for many years the philosophy publisher for Routledge before founding the digital publishing services company Semantico in 1999. Since selling his stake in the latter he provides digital publishing consultancy for a wide range of publishers with Caxtonia. In the last few years he has been working with Goldsmiths, University of London to establish and launch a new university press, Goldsmiths Press. He was, until January 2017, a board member of the University of Wales Press. He is also the co-founder and director of the app publisher, Aimer Media.
  • Catherine Taylor
    Journalist, critic and editor
    Catherine Taylor is currently a freelance journalist writing for the Guardian, Financial Times and New Statesman. She was until recently the deputy director of English PEN, and previous roles include commissioning editor for Picador Classics and publisher at the Folio Society, where she was instrumental in setting up the Folio Prize. Catherine has been a previous judge on the British Book Awards, European Union Prize for Literature, Guardian First Book Award, and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate and Harvill Secker Young Translator prizes. She is writing her first book, a memoir of Sheffield in the 1970s and 80s.
  • Simon Juden
    Simon joined the book trade in 2007 as CEO of the Publishers Association. In 2010 he was hired by Pearson to lead government relations and policy work globally, and was known as an internal champion of new digital business models. He briefly served as director of academic and government strategic alliances at Elsevier before ill health enforced a career break; he now works as a consultant. He enjoys running, music and irritating his children.
  • Samira Ahmed
    Journalist and broadcaster
    Samira Ahmed is an award winning journalist and broadcaster. She presents Front Row on Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC1 and writes and makes documentaries about the connections between culture, science, politics and social change. Her programmes include John Ruskin's Eurythmic Girls and The Fundamentalist Queen about the wife of Oliver Cromwell. Samira writes for The Big Issue and The Guardian and is a Visiting Professor of Journalism at Kingston University.
  • Ursula Mackenzie
    After an early academic career, Ursula Mackenzie moved to publishing, starting as a Rights Manager at Granada. Four years later she joined Mark Barty-King at Transworld where she stayed for fifteen years, eventually becoming Hardcover Publisher. She was invited by David Young to join Little, Brown Book Group as Publisher in 2000. She was appointed Chief Executive and Publisher in January 2006. She was Chair of the Trade Publishers' Council from 2007 – 2012 and President of the Publisher’s Association from May 2012 – May 2013. In 2015 she became Chairman, handing over the Chief Executive role to her successor, David Shelley and retired at the end of 2016.
  • Peter James
    Peter James is one of the UK’s biggest selling police procedural writers.  He has had eleven consecutive Sunday Times No 1 bestsellers with his Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, which are published in 37 languages in 52 countries, with world sales of 18m copies. He is the recipient of the 2016 CWA Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence, and in 2015 was publicly voted by WH Smith readers as the Best Crime Author of All Time. He lives with his wife, Lara, and a menagerie of animals near Brighton in Sussex, where he was born and raised, and in Notting Hill, London.
  • James Heneage
    James Heneage was the founder of the Ottakar's bookshop chain, sold to Waterstones in 2006, and the Chalke Valley History Festival. He has chaired the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Costa Book Awards and been a Booker prize judge. He is now a writer of historical fiction and his fourth book 'By Blood Divided' will be published by Quercus in June 2017.
  • David Ward
    A senior industry professional with over 35 years experience, David Ward joined Bloomsbury Publishing PLC from Penguin on January 2nd 1987, three months before they published their first book. Promoted to UK Sales Director in 1998, David was an Executive Director on the PLC Board from 2002 to 2004 and later Group UK Sales Director. During a 30 year tenure, taking Harry Potter from zero to hero, he also sold and marketed many bestsellers - Schott's Miscellany; Khaled Hosseini; Tom Kerridge to name but a few.
  • Michael Neil
    Izod Associates
    Executive director
    Michael has worked in the book trade for many years holding senior roles at Bertrams, Blackwell’s, Dubray Books, HMV, Waterstones and WHSmith. He is Executive Director at book trade consultants Izod Associates.
  • Susan Sinclair
    Susan has over fifteen years experience in book retail management and commercial development across four different companies in both Australia and U.K. Currently, she is a consultant in retail management and business development. She also freelances in events programming and occasional writing projects.
  • Alex Hardy
    Harbottle & Lewis
    Publishing lawyer
    Alex Hardy is a publishing lawyer with Harbottle & Lewis LLP. She worked in the publishing industry as an editor and in-house lawyer before joining Harbottle & Lewis in 2011. Alex now works with publishers, authors, agents, retailers and publishing technology providers on cutting-edge legal and commercial issues. She was named one of The Bookseller's Rising Stars in 2013.
  • Tom Tivnan
    The Bookseller
    Features and insight editor
    Tom has worked as a bookseller for Barnes & Noble in the US, and for James Thin and Blackwell’s in the UK, and as a sales rep for Scottish distributor Bookspeed. A long-time freelance writer, he switched to full- time journalism in January 2007 and was promoted to features and insight editor in 2013.
  • Lisa Campbell
    The Bookseller
    News editor
    Lisa began working as a regional news journalist at the Keighley News in West Yorkshire before moving to London to work as part of the BBC Journalism Talent Pool. She worked as an entertainment reporter for Cover Media for a short time before joining The Bookseller in February 2011 as a reporter, and was promoted to senior reporter, specialising in retail, in 2013 before being promoted to deputy news editor in June 2014 and news editor in December 2015.