“Awards like this are needed” – 2022 Society of Authors’ Awards judges are announced

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.
Anietie Isong, Roger Robinson and Caroline Brothers among the judges awarding prizes in our first in-venue SoA Awards in three years.

Celebrating literary works from fiction, to poetry, to children’s books, the 2022 Society of Authors’ Awards will return to Southwark Cathedral on 1 June 2022 for our first in-venue ceremony since 2019. The event will be hybrid, with the ceremony also being livestreamed, and BSL interpreted.

The night will see winners and runners-up take home more than £100,000 in total, with prizes awarded to authors at all stages of their careers.

The annual awards recognise the best and most notable voices of the year, and in the past have recognised the early works of some of today’s leading literary figures, such as Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney and Zadie Smith. Last year’s winners included Pulitzer Prize winner Fredrik Logevall, British Book Awards winner Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Diane Ewen, co-creator of Never Show a T-Rex a Book.

As we return live and in venue for the first time in three years, we’re excited to see the return of many familiar faces, with several past SoA award-winners joining the judging panels this year.

Among them, we’re delighted to welcome back Anietie Isong, the 2018 winner of the McKitterick Prize (awarded to an author over the age of 40 for a first novel). We will also see many returning judges including T S Eliot winner Roger Robinson, awarding the Eric Gregory Awards for collections by poets under the age of 30.

Anietie Isong, judge and previous winner of the McKitterick Prize, says:

It’s a great privilege to be a judge of the McKitterick Prize. I strongly believe awards like these are needed to celebrate the novels of late bloomers when the world seems obsessed with early achievement.

Winning the McKitterick Prize attracted new readers to my debut novel, and I hope this year’s winner achieves even more success.  I look forward to reading the incredible novels that have been entered for this prize and introducing the shortlist to the world.

Roger Robinson, judge of the Eric Gregory Awards for poetry, says:

It’s always a privilege and a pleasure to have this opportunity to read and connect with the next generation of poets. I’m always struck by how strong the future of poetry feels with every passing year and how I get to take in supporting the best of the young and upcoming writers.

This year we’ll also see the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize awarded for the very first time. Created in memory of Malcolm Lowry and endowed by his biographer Gordon Bowker and Ramdei Bowker, the prize is for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home, inspired by Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano. On the judging panel are authors Philip Hensher and Aamer Hussein, as well as the novelist and former foreign correspondent Caroline Brothers.

Caroline Brothers, judge of the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize, says:

To read the submissions for the inaugural Volcano prize has been to embark on a kaleidoscopic journey into cultures, eras and experiences in an astonishing range of locations, refracted through a lens that is as broad as fiction itself.

Seeing how contemporary novelists have opened themselves to the wider world has been illuminating; how they grapple with the sense of self and otherness, with notions of displacement and adaptation, with the ways that personal, psychological or cultural heritage might shape experience or foster change, has been heady in its variety and depth.

There have been near misses and soaring heights, courageous debuts and confident works by writers of greater experience. It has been a pleasure to read them, and will be heartbreaking to choose among them, in quest of a worthy successor to Lowry’s great work.

The judges announced for each award are:

ALCS TOM-GALLON TRUST AWARD

Judged by Claire Fuller, Sophie Haydock, Billy Kahora and Mary Watson. 

An annual award of £1,000 for a short story, financed by a bequest made by Miss Nellie Tom-Gallon in memory of her brother and generously sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).

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


BETTY TRASK PRIZE AND AWARDS

Judged by Michael Donkor, Alex Preston and Sara Collins. 

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund: £26,200.


CHOLMONDELEY AWARDS

Judged by Moniza Alvi, Hannah Lowe, Drew Milne and Deryn Rees-Jones. 

The Cholmondeley Awards are awarded for a body of work by a poet. Previous winners have included Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard and Andrew Motion. Total prize fund: £8,400.


ERIC GREGORY AWARDS

Judged by Raymond Antrobus, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Sarah Howe, Gwyneth Lewis, Roger Robinson, and Joelle Taylor. 

The Eric Gregory Award is presented for a collection of poems by a poet under 30. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, Tom Chivers, Helen Mort and Alan Hollinghurst. Total prize fund: £28,350.


McKITTERICK PRIZE

Judged by Selma Dabbagh, Rebecca Foster, Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Anietie Isong and Nick Rennison. 

The McKitterick Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40. Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah. Total prize fund: £5,250.


PAUL TORDAY MEMORIAL PRIZE

Judged by Mavis Cheek, Denise Mina and Donald S Murray. 

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who only published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Total prize fund: £1,000.


QUEEN’S KNICKERS AWARD

Judged by Lauren Child, Petr Horácek and Patrice Lawrence. 

Funded by Nicholas Allan, author of The Queen’s Knickers, is the Queen’s Knickers Award recognises an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. It will be awarded to a book that strikes a quirky, new note and grabs the attention of a child, whether this be in the form of curiosity, amusement, horror or excitement. Total prize fund: £6,000.


SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARDS

Judged by Fred D’Aguiar, Ardashir Vakil and Roseanne Watt. 

The Somerset Maugham Awards are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 30, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Past winners include Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund: £16,000.


TRAVELLING SCHOLARSHIPS

Judged by Tahmima Anam, Aida Edemariam, Gabriel Gbadamosi, Anne McElvoy and Abir Mukherjee. 

The Travelling Scholarships are awarded to British writers to enable engagement with writers abroad. Previous recipients have included Dylan Thomas, Laurie Lee, Margaret Drabble and Helen Simpson. Total prize fund: £8,000.


THE GORDON BOWKER VOLCANO PRIZE

Judged by Caroline Brothers, Philip Hensher and Aamer Hussein. 

A prize awarded to a UK or Irish writer, or a writer currently resident in those countries, for a novel focusing on the experience of travel away from home.

Total prize fund £2,750.

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