The British Book Awards Books of the Year shortlists in six categories were unveiled Wednesday 15th March at the 2017 London Book Fair.
British magazine The Bookseller, which reports news on the publishing industry acquired the rights to the British Book Awards, also known as the Nibbies, earlier this year, meaning this year there will be a unified book and trade award-giving for the first time since 2004. The prize has expanded this year with additional awards: Crime and Thriller titles have their own category, while non-fiction is split into Narrative and Lifestyle. The shortlists contain six books in each of the six categories, and recognise the author, illustrator and entire publishing team.
In 2016 the previously titled British Book Industry Awards revamped Books of the Year with four new categories including Children’s, Debut Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction with an overall Book of the Year prize introduced to “celebrate the books that best demonstrated the real value of publishing; a close collaboration between publisher and author that culminates in something extraordinary for the reader”.
This year sees a great year for diverse writers on the shortlist with 3 British BAME writers getting a mention:
Debut Book of the Year
My Name is Leon (Penguin General) by Award winning author from Birmingham, Kit de Waal – A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you’d least expect to find one. Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like chocolate bars, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum. My Name is Leonis a heartbreaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home.
Non-fiction: Narrative Book of the Year
The Good Immigrant (Unbound) by writer of fiction and television and host of the Subaltern podcast, Nikesh Shukla –
How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?
Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?
Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.
Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.
Children’s Book of the Year
Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story (illus) (Hodder) by BBC’s 2015 winner of The Great British Bakeoff Nadiya Hussain, Clair Rossiter (illustrator) – With fifteen magical stories to read and fifteen recipes inspired by each story to make, both children and adults will be enchanted by this beautiful gift book. A unique hybrid of storybook and cookbook, with all recipes and stories devised and written by Nadiya herself, Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story brings families into the kitchen to spend time sharing stories and cooking. Combining playful photography of Nadiya and her children with vibrant illustrations by Clair Rossiter, this glorious celebration of the joy of sharing food and stories is the perfect addition to every family’s kitchen!
African American writer and 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty’s book, The Sellout (Oneworld) has been shortlisted in the Fiction Book of the Year category along with Indian American writer Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air (The Bodley Head). The Sellout is a biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. Challenging the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality–the black Chinese restaurant. When Breath Becomes Air, was published posthumously after Paul Kalanithi died while working on his profoundly moving book. It is described as a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.
The 2017 British Book Awards Books of the Year winners will be announced 8th May at Grosvenor House. Find out more here.