Penguin Random House leads the nominations for The British Book Awards’ Books of the Year and Trade categories, with the consumer publishing giant taking 26 places across both shortlists—18% of the total. Hachette is in second place, with 18 nods, and HarperCollins follows hot on its heels with 17 entries.
Three bestsellers lead the pack with two nominations each: Philip Pullman’s long-awaited first in the Book of Dust series, La Belle Sauvage, is nominated for Children’s Book of the Year and AudioBook; début author Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is up for Fiction: Début and AudioBook, while J P Delaney’s psychological thriller The Girl Before is in the running for Crime & Thriller and AudioBook of the Year.
Gail Honeyman and Philip Pullman
Reflecting the awards’ mission to honour the hard work of the trade in securing a book’s commercial success, Pullman’s long-time editor David Fickling has made the cut in the Editor of the Year category for his work perfecting the companion series to the iconic His Dark Materials, while PRH Children’s and Riot Communications are in the running for Publicity Campaign of the Year for helping the much-anticipated novel exceed sales expectations. Meanwhile, Honeyman’s agent Madeleine Milburn is down for the Trade awards, along with publisher HarperCollins, which is up for both Marketing Strategy and Publisher of the Year.
The all-star line up showcasing the best of the British book industry has been unveiled today (16th March), with six authors competing in each of the awards’ seven Books of the Year categories. The names in the running for the prizes range from publishing stalwarts Marian Keyes and Ali Smith, to débutants Sally Rooney and Adam Kay, to celebrities such as Russell Brand and Bruce Dickinson.
In Fiction: Début Book of the Year, Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Rooney is nominated for her hit Conversations with Friends (Faber). She goes head to head with Honeyman, whose first novel was acquired by HarperCollins after an eight-way auction and has spent three weeks at the top of the charts in 2018. Waterstones’ crime fiction buyer Joseph Knox’s British noir novel Sirens (Doubleday) is also nominated, as is US author Gabriel Tallent’s dark thriller My Absolute Darling (Fourth Estate). Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (Viking), on the subject of slavery, and Gill Sims’ tongue-in-cheek account of family life, Why Mummy Drinks (Harper Non- Fiction), are also in contention.
Twenty-two years into her publishing career, Keyes’ The Break (Michael Joseph) will compete against two Man Booker Prize-nominated titles, Ali Smith’s Winter (Hamish Hamilton) and Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13 (Fourth Estate), in the Fiction category. They are joined by the late Helen Dunmore with her historical fiction work Birdcage Walk (Hutchinson/Windmill), Joanna Trollope’s City of Friends (Mantle) and Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time (Canongate), the film rights to which have been acquired by Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company, with the actor set to star.
Cooking a storm
In Non-Fiction: Lifestyle, cookery heavyweights Jamie Oliver, Joe Wicks and Nigel Slater face off with their respective titles 5 Ingredients (Michael Joseph), Cooking for Family and Friends (Bluebird) and The Christmas Chronicles (Fourth Estate). The trio are joined by TV presenter Fearne Cotton’s Happy (Orion Spring), which chronicles her battle with depression, actor and comedian Russell Brand’s 12-step programme to moving on from addiction, Recovery (Bluebird), and South Korean author Haemin Sunim’s The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down (Penguin Life), which explores how to be calm in a busy world.
Big names also dominate the Non-Fiction: Narrative shortlist, with Tim Peake in the running for Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space (Century) and Iron Maiden frontman Dickinson down for his memoir exploring his life as a rock star and airline pilot, motivational speaker and beer brewer, What Does This Button Do? (Harper Non-Fiction). They compete with Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am (Tinder Press), the novelist’s personal account of her near-misses with death, and doctor-turned-comedian Kay’s smash hit This is Going to Hurt (Picador). Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury Circus), nominated for both Blackwell’s and Foyles’ Book of the Year awards, and Rosamund Young’s The Secret Life of Cows (Faber), described as a thoughtful book about the intelligence of mammals, complete the shortlist.
Pullman, the president of the Society of Authors, leads the Children’s Book of the Year contenders with La Belle Sauvage, illustrated by Chris Wormell, which won last year’s Waterstones Book of the Year. It will go up against Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books), mega-selling David Walliams’ Bad Dad and Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, which publisher Walker Books won the rights for after a five-way auction. Completing the kids’ shortlist is The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton), a favourite with indie bookshops, and Oi Cat! by Kes Gray and illustrator Jim Field (Hodder Children’s).
In the Crime & Thriller category, Delaney and Lee Child’s The Midnight Line (Bantam Press) will battle it out with Jane Harper’s The Dry (Abacus), Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes (Harper Fiction), Mick Herron’s Spook Street (John Murray) and Erin Kelly’s He Said/She Said (Mulholland). Hodder & Stoughton has two books in the running (Herron and Kelly), while Quercus, Transworld, Little, Brown and HarperCollins all have one apiece.
L-R Stephen Fry, Chris Smith and Greg James
In the final category, Pullman, Honeyman and Delaney receive their second nods for AudioBook of the Year, a new award for 2018. They are up against Stephen Fry’s narration of Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Audible); Robert Webb’s How Not to Be a Boy, which the author narrates (Audible Studios); and Kid Normal by Greg James and Chris Smith (W F Howes/Nudged Audio).
The British Book Awards, known as the Nibbies, honour and celebrate the commercial successes of publishers, authors and bookshops. Organised by The Bookseller, they culminate in a gala ceremony at The Grosvenor House Hotel, held on 14th May.
Reflecting on the Books of the Year shortlists, The Bookseller's editor Philip Jones said: “In a year that was marked by notable instances of event-publishing, some stand-out new names, and the return to form of some greats, there was also evidence of a broadening of the market, with debuts from Angie Thomas, Gill Sims and Gail Honeyman mixing it with the fiction blockbusters and the non-fiction giants. The Books of the Year shortlists reflect the strength and industry of a sector that can be both Happy and challenged. In 2017 The British book trade was valued at £1.6bn, it was the year when a lot worked.”
The Books of the Year shortlists:
The Break by Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Hutchinson/Windmill)
Winter by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig (Canongate)
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (Fourth Estate)
City of Friends by Joanna Trolllope (Mantle)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Viking)
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Fourth Estate)
Sirens by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Harper Fiction)
Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims (Harper Non-Fiction)
Fiction: Crime & Thriller
The Midnight Line by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
The Dry by Jane Harper (Abacus)
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (Harper Fiction)
Spook Street by Mick Herron (John Murray)
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly (Mulholland)
The Girl Before by J P Delaney (Quercus)
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman and illustrator Chris Wormell (David Fickling Books in Association with Penguin Random House Children’s)
The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris (Hamish Hamilton)
Oi Cat! By Kes Gray and illustrator Jim Field (Hodder Children’s Books)
Bad Dad by David Walliams and illustrator Tony Ross (HarperCollins Children’s)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker Books)
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Particular Books)
5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver (Michael Jospeh)
The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down: How To Be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim (Penguin Life)
The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, Stories and 100 Essential Recipes For Midwinter by Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate)
Cooking For Family and Friends by Joe Wicks (Bluebird)
Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell brand (Bluebird)
Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day and Letting Go of Perfect by Fearne Cotton (Orion Spring)
Ask An Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space by Tim Peake (Century)
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus)
The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young ( Faber & Faber)
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press)
This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor by Adam Kay (Picador)
What Does This Button Do? By Bruce Dickinson (Harper Non-Fiction)
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, narrated by Michael Sheen (Penguin Random House Audio)
How To Be A Boy by Robert Webb (author and narrator) (Audible Studios)
Kid Normal by Greg James and Chris Smith (W F Howes/Nudged Audiobooks)
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Stephen Fry (Audible)
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, narrated by Cathleen McCarron (HarperCollins)
The Girl Before by J P Delaney, narrated by Emilia Fox, Finty Williams, Lise Aagaard Knudsen (Quercus).
See the full shortlists here.