The inaugural British Book Industry Awards’ Book of the Year shortlists - covering Children’s, Début Fiction, Fiction and Non-fiction - showcase the “glorious way that publishing continually shifts and reinvents itself”, chair of judges Cathy Rentzenbrink has said.
Revealed today, the lists consist of eight books in each of the four categories. The awards honour not just the author and illustrator of a title, but the entire team, from editor to publicity to sales, and all those in between. Among the books making the shortlist are Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (William Heinemann), Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 (Bluebird), and Terry Pratchett’s The Shepherd’s Crown (Doubleday Children’s). One author, Matt Haig, has two books on the shortlists.
Rentzenbrink, The Bookseller’s contributing editor, said: “The Book of the Year shortlists showcase the breadth and depth of British publishing and the glorious way that publishing continually shifts and reinvents itself as huge bestsellers come out of left field. In the lists, we have a YouTube star, a 92-year-old author/illustrator, there are books in translation... and who would have ever foreseen the Ladybird [Books for Grown-Ups series] effect? There is also serious history, significant literary endeavours and début novels that hold all the promise of a fine future.”
Matt Haig’s first shortlisting is for A Boy Called Christmas, illustrated by Chris Mould and published by Canongate, which appears on the Children’s shortlist (below left). Also on the kids’ list is Judith Kerr’s Mog’s Christmas Calamity, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in partnership with Sainsbury’s. Kerr is the oldest author across the four shortlists, at 92.
HarperCollins Children’s Books scores a second shortlisting with Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross. Also on the list are Costa Book of the Year The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books), Pratchett’s final Discworld novel The Shepherd’s Crown (Doubleday Children’s), David Solomons’ My Brother is a Superhero (Nosy Crow), and Jim Kay’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling (Bloomsbury). The list is rounded off by Username: Evie (Hodder & Stoughton) by Joe Sugg, Amrit Birdi and Matt Whyman.
Charlotte Eyre, The Bookseller’s children’s editor and co-chair of the Children’s Book of the Year judging panel, said: “The shortlist for the Children’s Book of the Year award showcases the brilliant work the industry is doing in this sector. All the books shortlisted - from picture books to YA - demonstrate the talent of authors and illustrators working today, as well as the skill publishers are showing in bringing these titles to market.”
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller’s children’s previewer and co-chair alongside Eyre, said of the selection: “Children’s and YA books have created some of the biggest publishing stories of 2015 and this shortlist really showcases that: from the Costa Prize to YouTubers, and huge bestsellers to heritage publishing reimagined on a grand scale.”
Canongate and Haig feature for a second time on the shortlist for Non-fiction (right), with Reasons to Stay Alive. Also on the shortlist are two books in translation: Gut by Giulia Enders, translated by David Shaw (Scribe), and Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting, translated by Robert Ferguson (MacLehose Press).
The other books in the running for the Non-Fiction award are Ella Woodward’s Deliciously Ella (Hodder & Stoughton), Wicks’ Lean in 15, The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (Doubleday), Mary Beard’s SPQR (Profile) and Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups title How It Works: The Husband by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris (Michael Joseph).
Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller’s associate editor and non-fiction previewer, and chair of the Non-Fiction category, said: “I’m delighted with the non-fiction shortlist, both because it celebrates the wonderful heterogeneity of Non-Fiction like no other shortlist, and because it recognises the brilliant publishing that lies beneath the headline success of these titles.”
The Fiction shortlist (left) includes just one male writer: Kazuo Ishiguro with The Buried Giant (Faber & Faber). Six of the books on the list are published by Penguin Random House: Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins (Doubleday), Jojo Moyes’ After You (Michael Joseph), Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, E L James’ Grey (Arrow), Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Doubleday) and Anne Enright’s The Green Road (Jonathan Cape). The final book on the Fiction list is Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (Picador).
Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller’s books editor and chair of the Fiction category, said: “After much debate, the eight titles selected run the gamut of the best fiction, from critically acclaimed Man Booker Prize- nominated titles A Little Life and The Green Road, to word-of-mouth bestseller Grey and a gripping thriller, The Girl on the Train. There’s also Costa [Novel Award] winner A God in Ruins, the long-awaited The Buried Giant, the sequel to a much-loved commercial smash in After You; and finally the literary discovery of 2015, Go Set a Watchman.”
The Début Fiction category (right) includes Man Booker- shortlisted The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (ONE/Pushkin Press); Costa Début of the Year winner The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (John Murray); and Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (Faber & Faber). Also on the list are Renée Knight’s Disclaimer (Doubleday), Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go (Sphere), Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood (Harvill Secker), Kate Hamer’s The Girl in the Red Coat (Faber & Faber) and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (Weidenfeld & Nicolson).
Rentzenbrink, chair of the Début category, said: “Bringing a first-time writer to market demands commitment, hard graft and imagination. We love the range of subject and style in our début fiction category and we are sure that these writers are at the start of impressive careers."
Strength in breadth
The category winners will be decided by four panels of judges, and a separate panel will go on to choose the overall Book of the Year from the four category winners.
Judging the Début award are Sam Baker, founder of The Pool; BBC Radio 2 producer Joe Haddow; Matt Bates, fiction buyer at W H Smith Travel; and journalist Alex Clark. Judging the Fiction prize are authors Viv Groskop and Sali Hughes; Waterstones fiction buyer Chris White; historian Kate Williams; and BBC Radio 4’s Alison Finch.
Judges for the Children’s category are Booka Bookshop manager Carrie Morris; Waterstones head of books Melissa Cox; Book Trust’s Gemma Malley; journalist Stuart Dredge; and author and The Reading Agency ambassador Bali Rai. Presiding over Non-Fiction are Tesco's Karen Brindle; Arifa Akbar, literary editor of the Independent; Robbie Millen, literary editor of the Times; and Foyles assistant buyer Gary Powell.
The British Book Industry Awards take place on 9th May in London. For more information and to book, click here.