Coffee house Caffè Nero has announced the 16-strong shortlist for the inaugural Nero Book Awards, recognising the outstanding books of the past 12 months across four categories: Children's Fiction, Debut Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction. Twelve category judges - a mix of authors, booksellers and journalists - were tasked with choosing the best books of the year from writers based in the UK and Ireland.
Highlighting outstanding books of the year and awarded to writers based in the UK and Ireland, the four shortlists feature writers from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Philippines, Canada and Nigeria, ranging in age from 27 to 61. Judges include the novelist and screenwriter Sara Collins; journalist, screenwriter and author Sarfraz Manzoor; and novelists Anthony Quinn and Dave Rudden.
The shortlisted authors include a stand-up comedian and a wild swimmer alongside a country writer, who writes exclusively outdoors, a mathematician-turned-novelist and a former translator for Japanese television. Half the list is made up of debut works.
Children's Fiction Shortlist judges Dave Rudden, Nick Sheridan and Urmi Merchant ©Aashfaria A. Anwar
The Children's Fiction category shortlist includes a range of topics from sapphic gothic romance to a laugh-out-loud mystery adventure. Social media star and novelist Lex Croucher makes the shortlist with their first YA book, historical fantasy romcom Gwen and Art Are Not in Love (Bloomsbury YA). Kat Dunn has been shortlisted for her second novel, a gothic love story, Bitterthorn (Andersen Press). Candy Gourlay, a winner of the Philippines' National Children's Book Award, is shortlisted for her coming-of-age tale, Wild Song (David Fickling Books). Beth Lincoln rounds off the list with her mystery adventure and debut novel The Swifts (Puffin).
A winning title from each of the four categories will be announced on 16th January 2024 and, of those, one book will be selected as the overall winner - The Nero Gold Prize - by a final panel of judges and announced at a ceremony in late February 2024. Each of the category winners receives £5,000, with the overall Nero Gold Prize - Book of the Year winner receiving an additional £30,000.
These are the full shortlists (listed alphabetically by author surname):
Children's Fiction Award Shortlist
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher (Bloomsbury YA)
Bitterthorn by Kat Dunn (Andersen Press)
Wild Song by Candy Gourlay (David Fickling)
The Swifts by Beth Lincoln (Puffin). Illustrated by Claire Powell
Debut Fiction Award Shortlist
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa by Stephen Buoro (Bloomsbury Circus)
The New Life by Tom Crewe (Chatto & Windus)
Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth (VERVE Books)
Close To Home by Michael Magee (Hamish Hamilton)
Fiction Award Shortlist
Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton (Granta)
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton)
Ordinary Human Failings by Megan Nolan (Jonathan Cape)
Fifteen Wild Decembers by Karen Powell (Europa Editions)
Non-Fiction Award Shortlist
Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (Brazen)
The Tidal Year by Freya Bromley (Coronet)
Undercurrent by Natasha Carthew (Coronet)
Hags by Victoria Smith (Fleet)
The Nero Book Awards are part of a programme by Caffè Nero - an independent, family-owned business - to sponsor the arts, including supporting outstanding new singer-songwriters, exceptional writers, designers and photographers. The Nero Book Awards are run in partnership with Right to Dream, Brunel University London and The Booksellers Association.
For full details of the shortlists follow Nero Book Awards on Twitter and Instagram, or visit nerobookawards.com.