Debut authors Nina Stibbe (pictured), Jessie Burton and Nathan Filer were among the winners at the Specsavers National Book Awards 2014.
The awards, presented yesterday (26th November) at a ceremony at the Foreign Office in London by TV news presenter Susanna Reid, also saw awards for David Walliams, who won the Children’s Book of the Year honour for the third consecutive year, David Nicholls and Mary Berry, among others.
Nicholls won UK Author of the Year, for the second time in his career, for Us (Hodder & Stoughton). “I am really honoured,” he said. “It is a great award because it’s about the books that people want to read. There is an artificial distinction between popular and literary, and this blurs that.” Us is the author’s first book since One Day (Hodder & Stoughton) was released … years ago, and Nicholls told The Bookseller that his publisher had been “patient and very passionate” about the novel.
Burton was awarded the Books Are My Bag New Writer of the Year Award for The Miniaturist (Picador). She said it was booksellers who were responsible for getting her book “out there” and that word of mouth had contributed to the success of The Miniaturist. Burton, who wrote the book while working as a PA, added: “It’s really hard to get published so I think you should give yourself a pat on the back if you get published. I never thought beyond publication date, so the response has been fantastic.” She called Picador an “exceptional publisher” and said she was working on a second novel, set during the Spanish Civil War and the London art scene in the 1960s.
Stibbe’s Love, Nina (Penguin) was named Non-fiction Book of the Year. The author said she was “stunned” at the reception the book, made up of letters she wrote to her sister during her time as a nanny in the 1980s, had received. “I thought they [the letters] were hilarious but that’s because they were about my old life,” she said. Stibbe told The Bookseller that Nick Hornby is adapting Love, Nina for the screen, and said she is currently working on a sequel to Man at the Helm (Penguin), her début novel released earlier this year.
Filer won the Specsavers Popular Fiction Book of the Year for his debut novel The Shock of the Fall (The Borough Press), capping a year which started with the book winning the Costa Book of the Year award.
Among the other awards, cookery writer and "Great British Bake-Off" judge Berry received the Outstanding Achievement accolade, presented to her by chef Ken Hom. Walliams’ Awful Auntie (HarperCollins Children’s) was named Children’s Book of the Year, the third consecutive year in which a Walliams novel has taken the honour, and the book was also the winner of the Audible Audiobook of the Year award.
Crime Book of the Year was awarded to Terry Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim (Bantam Press), while Yotam Ottolenghi won the Food and Drink of the Year award for Plenty More (Ebury Press).
Alan Johnson’s memoir Please, Mister Postman (Bantam Press), the sequel to This Boy (Bantam Press), was named the winner of the Magic FM Autobiography/Biography of the Year.
International Author of the Year was Karen Joy Fowler for the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail).
The awards ceremony was followed by a reception for nominees and winners at Number 11 Downing Street, in association with Books Are My Bag.
The awards are judged by an academy of industry professionals. Voting is now open for the Specsavers Book of the Year award, which is chosen by the public from the category winners of this year’s awards.
The poll closes at midnight on 19th December, and the winner will be announced on 22nd December.