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Society of Authors’ Awards 2019 shortlists announced

International bestselling author Heather Morris, independent bookseller Samuel Fisher and 81 year-old debut novelist Noram Macmaster shortlisted for £100,000 Society of Authors’ Awards night of riches

The shortlists for the Betty Trask, McKitterick, Somerset Maugham, ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust awards and the inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize, an award for a first novel by a writer over 60, were announced by The Society of Authors today (Wednesday 15th May) with bestselling author Heather Morris (The Tattooist of Auschwitz), Women’s Prize shortlisted Imogen Hermes Gowar (The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock), Costa Short Story Award shortlisted Sheila Llewellyn (Walking Wounded), 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize winner Claire Fuller (Tiny and Pointed) and independent bookseller Samuel Fisher (The Chameleon) amongst a list of 31 shortlisted writers and poets.

In a celebration of inclusivity and the power of storytelling the shortlisted names include established bestsellers, debut authors, poets and short story writers with the oldest nominee, Irish debut novelist Norma MacMaster, aged 81. The judges for each award, including Kate Mosse, Gary Younge, Mark Lawson, Anita Sethi, Vaseem Khan, Susan Hill, Stuart Evers, Irenosen Okojie and Jen Campbell were united in their praise for ‘inventive, courageous, challenging and evocative writing that explores both the everyday and the extraordinary ’ with stories exploring the personal and political via themes of displacement, love, friendship, community and loss.

The five prizes will be awarded at the Society of Authors’ Awards on Monday 17th June, a unique night of riches which will see the UK’s biggest literary fund of more than £100,000 awarded by authors for authors. The event has rewarded the early works of some of today’s most prominent literary figures such as Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon and honoured the careers of established figures including Dylan Thomas, Fay Weldon, William Golding and Margaret Drabble.

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The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Judged by Ben Brooks, Elanor Dymott and Vaseem Khan.

· The Litten Path by James Clarke (Salt)

· The Chameleon by Samuel Fisher (Salt)

· The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker)

· Paul by Daisy Lafarge (unpublished)

· Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley (Sandstone Press)

· The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Hamish Hamilton)

· The Watermelon Boys by Ruqaya Izzidien (Hoopoe/AUC Press)

Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. The winner of the 2018 Betty Trask Prize was Omar Robert Hamilton for The City Always Wins. Total prize and award fund £26,250.


The McKitterick Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40. Judged by Susan Hill, Chris Tayler and Abir Mukherjee.

· What We’re Teaching Our Sons by Owen Booth (4th Estate)

· West by Carys Davies (Granta Books)

· Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (Hutchinson)

· Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (Granta Books)

· The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson (Two Roads)

· Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else by C.D.Rose (Melville House)

· Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (Doubleday)

Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Last year’s winner was Anietie Isong for Radio Sunrise. Total prize fund £5,250.


Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Judged by Stuart Evers and Irenosen Okojie.

· Once We Were Syrians by Dima Alzayat

· Gerardo Dreams of Chillies by Niall Bourke

· Tiny and Pointed by Claire Fuller

· The Kids by Bruce Meyer

· Blessing by Bunmi Ogunsiji

Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. The 2018 winner was Chris Connolly. Total award fund £1,575.


The inaugural Paul Torday Memorial Prize will be awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. Prize fund £1,000 plus a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who himself only published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Judged by Mark Lawson, Kate Mosse and Anita Sethi.

· Sealskin by Su Bristow (Orenda Books)

· Walking Wounded by Sheila Llewellyn (Sceptre)

· Silence Under a Stone by Norma MacMaster (Doubleday Ireland)

· The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson (Two Roads)

· The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Zaffre)

· Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (Doubleday)


The Somerset Maugham Awards are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Judged by Jen Campbell, Barney Norris and Ian Thomson.

· The Perseverence by Raymond Antrobus (Penned in the Margins)

· The Stopping Places by Damian Le Bas (Chatto & Windus)

· Shrines of Upper Austria by Phoebe Power (Carcanet)

· The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair (John Murray)

· The Crossway by Guy Stagg (Picador)

· Mrs Gaskell and Me by Nell Stevens (Picador)

Past winners include Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. The winners in 2018 were Miriam Nash, Fiona Mozley and Kayo Chingonyi. Total prize fund £16,000.