'Challenging, bold & ambitious' - the 2018 Authors' Awards Shortlists

13 June 2018

Pictured, from left: Eli Goldstone, Lloyd Markham, Masande Ntshanga, Omar Robert Hamilton, Sarah Day, Clare Fisher

The shortlists for the Betty Trask, McKitterick, Tom-Gallon and Somerset Maugham awards were announced by The Society of Authors today with Man Booker nominated Fiona Mozley, 2014 Tom-Gallon award winner Benjamin Myers, Eric Gregory award winning poet Miriam Nash, Irish writers Valerie O’Riordan and Chris Connolly and debut novelists Eli Goldstone, Omar Robert Hamilton, Masande Ntshanga and Sarah Day amongst the 22 shortlisted names.

The four prizes will be awarded at The Authors’ Awards on Thursday 19 July, a unique night of riches with all the awards judged 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 the evening will see the UK’s biggest literary fund of more than £98,000 awarded to established and emerging writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

The judges for each award, including Joanne Harris, Samantha Shannon, Frances Fyfield, Abir Mukherjee, Irenosen Okojie, Jen Campbell and Paul Bailey, were united in their praise for ‘compelling, sophisticated, original and emotionally charged’ writing with stories taking the reader from the landscapes of rural and urban Britain and on to the streets of Cairo, Cape Town, Australia and beyond, via themes of grief, love, justice, family and revolution.


Betty Trask Prize & Awards

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35.

  • Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day (Tinder Press)
  • All the Good Things by Clare Fisher (Viking)
  • Strange Heart Beating by Eli Goldstone (Granta)
  • The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton (Faber and Faber)
  • Bad Ideas/Chemicals by Lloyd Markham (Parthian)
  • The Reactive by Masanda Ntshanga (Jacaranda)

The Trask shortlist is always very strong, very original, and this year is no different - six books reflecting the excellent quality and diversity of new writers today. We have Clare Fisher's touching, tough and incisive view of what it's like to be a child in care, robbed of choices; Eli Goldstone's fable-like tale that spirits the reader from London to the deep forests of Latvia; Lloyd Markham's death stare at society, sharp as a syringe and gloriously weird; Masande Ntshanga depiction of the gritty reality of Cape Town in 2003 through the smoky lens of the young and high; Omar Robert Hamilton's tough, bleak and relentless work - a challenging, heart-wrenching and in many ways, necessary novel; while Sarah Day presents a powerful but little-known historical narrative that needed to be told.

Judges Ben Brooks, Joanne Harris and Samantha Shannon.


​Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund is £26,250.

McKitterick Prize

The McKitterick Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40.

  • Darke by Rick Gekoski (Canongate Books)
  • Radio Sunrise by Anietie Isong (Jacaranda)
  • The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard (Pan Macmillan)
  • Yes by Anne Patterson (Silvertail Books)
  • The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades (Chatto & Windus)

The fabulous debut novels in this year's McKitterick shortlist take us from the open spaces of the Australian outback to inner worlds filled with loss, hope and self-acceptance. We have a deliriously well-written tale of impending old age and bereavement; a small volume about an utterly likeable Nigerian journalist, which stays long in the imagination; the quiet, inspirational story of the dilemmas faced by an autistic daughter after her powerfully protective mother dies; a perfect, mesmerising book about a woman after a stroke, which feels as if it contains half a lifetime of observation; and a tale set in the Australian outback at the end of World War II, full of moral dilemmas, brutality and humanity.

Judges Frances Fyfield, Aamer Hussein and Abir Mukherjee.

Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Total prize fund £5,250.

Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Pictured, from left: Gabi Reigh, Valerie O'Riordan, Ben Myers, Chris Connolly, Jacky Taylor, Kirsty Logan

The Tom-Gallon Trust Award (generously supported by ALCS) is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication.

  • The Speed of Light and How it Cannot Help Us by Chris Connolly
  • My Body Cannot Forget your Body by Kirsty Logan
  • A Thousand Acres of English Soil by Benjamin Myers
  • Livestock by Valerie O’Riordan
  • It Was a Very Good Year by Gabi Reigh
  • A Brief Period of Rejoicing by Jacky Taylor

These six writers show how the short story form continues to excite. Ben Myers vividly paints generations of lives lived close to the earth, among birds and animals. Chris Connolly gives us a compelling, taut, emotionally charged evocation on loss. Gabi Reigh writes about large matters - exile, alienation, differences of language and culture - all hinted at with delicacy. Jacky Taylor explores the magic of small things and the tantalising allure of what could have been. Kirsty Logan's imaginative, darkly beautiful piece is striking and assured - the boldest of the stories on the list. And the eagle-eyed protagonist of Valerie O'Riordan's funny, acerbic rollicking tale seizes the reader's attention immediately.

Judges Paul Bailey and Irenosen Okojie.

Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. Total award fund £1,575.

Somerset Maugham Awards

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.

  • Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi – poetry (Chatto & Windus)
  • Fortune Cookie by Jenna Clake – poetry (Eyewear Publishing)
  • The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle by J. D. Dixon – novel (Thistle Publishing)
  • Elmet by Fiona Mozley – novel (J M Originals)
  • All the Prayers in the House by Miriam Nash – poetry (Bloodaxe Books)

In judging this year's Somerset Maugham Award shortlist we've discovered five wildly different but equally excellent young writers. From poetry - Kayo Chingonyi's playful, nostalgic poignance, Jenna Clake's unique vision, and Miriam Nash's hypnotic sense of place - to fiction - J.D. Dixon's unforgiving, surprising and powerful narrative, and Fiona Mozley's visionary book, written in luminous prose - it's a privilege to include these writers and their work.

Judges Jen Campbell, Barney Norris and Ian Thomson

Past winners include Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund £15,750.

The Authors’ Awards, presented by Stephen Fry, will take place at RIBA on the evening of Thursday 19 July and will play host to 400 guests from across publishing and SoA membership. Further awards presented on the evening will include the Eric Gregory Award for a collection of poems by a poet under 30, the Cholmondely Award for a body of work by a poet, the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, the winner of which has already been released as Giles Tremlett for Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen (Bloomsbury) and The Travelling Scholarships awarded to British creative writers to enable them to keep in contact with writing colleagues abroad.

A unique evening of celebration, each award is chosen by authors for authors and judged by celebrated authors, writers and poets; many former winners themselves.