Thomas McMullan, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Fredrik Logevall are among the writers and illustrators who have won awards from the Society of Authors this year.
Chair Joanne Harris announced the 35 winners for 10 different prizes, spanning writers, poets and illustrators in an online ceremony on 9th June. It is the UK’s biggest literary prize fund, worth more than £100,000.
The winners included Thomas McMullan, who won the £10,000 Betty Trask Prize for his dark dystopian debut The Last Good Man (Bloomsbury) and Graeme Armstrong, who won both a Betty Trask Award and a Somerset Maugham Award, for The Young Team (Picador).
Lawyer turned children’s writer Rashmi Sirdeshpande and illustrator Diane Ewen won the Queen’s Knickers Award for Never Show a T-Rex a Book (Puffin). Millwood Hargrave also won a Betty Trask Award for her debut adult novel The Mercies (Picador), while Fredrik Logevall won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography with JFK Volume 1 (Penguin)
Gboyega Odubanjo, Milena Williamson and Cynthia Miller were among the young poets celebrated in the Eric Gregory Awards, while other award recipients included Forward Prize-winner Kei Miller, award-winning columnist Lola Okolosie, playwright and education worker Lamorna Ash, and short fiction author and literary reviewer D M O'Connor.
Introducing the awards, Harris reflected on the current challenges facing the author community. She told viewers: “With spring comes a new sense of optimism in the health crisis and, for sure, we’re all looking forward to seeing more of each other in person over the summer months. But for authors, whose careers are precarious at the best of times, the challenge to sustain themselves is perhaps more acute than ever.
“That is why we, at the Society of Authors, are here to support and to champion. And that is why all of us are here to celebrate on this night of our awards, the phenomenal depth and breadth of books and words. Authors at the very beginning of their careers. Authors that are well established. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and everything that lies in between. Literature as a treasure at the centre of society. Writing as a force to be reckoned with.”
A new Society of Authors prize was also announced. From 2022, the Volcano Prize will present £2,000 for a novel which focuses on the experience of travel away from home. Inspired by Malcolm Lowrie’s novel Under the Volcano (Penguin), the Volcano Prize is endowed by Lowrie’s biographer Gordon Bowker and Ramdei Bowker. The prize will open for entries in August 2021.
The winners in full:
The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award (for a short story):
Winner: D M O'Connor "I Told You Not to Fly So High" awarded £1,000
Runner-up: Sean Lusk "The Hopelessness of Hope" awarded £575
Betty Trask Prize & Awards (for a first novel by a writer under 35):
£10,000 Betty Trask Prize winner: Thomas McMullan for The Last Good Man (Bloomsbury) awarded £10,000
Betty Trask Awards Winners: Maame Blue Bad Love (Jacaranda Books), Eley Williams The Liar's Dictionary (William Heinnemann), Kiran Millwood Hargeave The Mercies (Picador), Nneoma Ike-Njoku The Water House (Unpublished), Graeme Armstrong The Young Team (Picador)
Cholmondeley Award winners (body of work by a poet):
£5,000 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography:
Frederik Logevall JFK Volume 1 (Viking)
Eric Gregory Award winners (for poems by a poet under 30):
Phoebe Walker "Animal Noises"
Michael Askew "The Assocition Game"
Gboyega Odubanjo "Aunty Uncle Poems"
Kandace Siobhan Walker "Cowboy"
Cynthia Miller "Honorifics"
Milena Williamson "The Red Trapeze"
Dominic Hand "Symbiont"
McKitterick Prize (for first novel by a writer over 40):
Winner: Elaine Feeney As You Were (Harvill Secker)
Runner-up: Deepa Anappara Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus)
Paul Torday Memorial Prize (for a first novel by a writer over 60):
Winner: Kathy O'Shaughnessy In Love with George Eliot (Scribe UK)
Runner-up: Karen Raney All The Water in the World (Two Roads)
The Queen’s Knickers Award (for an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7):
Winners: Writer Rashmi Sirdeshpande and illustrator Diane Ewen Never Show a T-Rex a Book (Puffin)
Runner-up: Alex T Smith Mr Penguin and The Catastrophic Cruise (Hachette)
Somerset Maugham Award winners (for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 30):
Lamorna Ash Dark, Salt, Clear (Bloomsbury)
Isabelle Baafi Ripe (Ignition Press)
Akeen Balogun The Storm (Okapi Books)
Graeme Armstrong The Young Team (Picador)
Yara Rodrigues Fowler