‘A strange, rich and often dazzling collection’ – 2022 SoA Awards shortlists 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.
The SoA has announced shortlists for the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, the Betty Trask Prize and Awards, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, the Queen’s Knickers Award, the McKitterick Prize and – in its first year – the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize.

Covers of some of the 2022 SoA Award shortlistees

This year’s awards are a showcase of the written word across all genres and formats, celebrating novels, children’s books and short stories, and exploring themes from race and social injustice, to coming of age, loneliness, grief and reconciliation.

Among the 32 shortlisted works are the poet A. K. Blakemore’s debut novel The Manningtree Witches set in the era of the harrowing 17th century witch trials, and 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize-winner Kanya D’Almeida’s I cleaned the–, a short story set in Sri Lanka about a former nanny now living in an old people’s home.

The shortlist also includes Matthew Hodson’s poetic children’s book At This Very Moment, which gently introduces young readers to the idea of mindfulness, and the awards’ first graphic novel shortlistee, award-winning New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail’s IN: The Graphic Novel, a moving account of contemporary loneliness.

The 2022 judging panel praised the broad selection of works this year, with Paul Torday Prize judge Donald S Murray commenting:

Judging the Paul Torday Prize was like embarking on an exploration of the world, both in its past and present shapes and forms. It took me to a wide range of times and places, to edges of both history and humanity where I had rarely stepped before. I felt both enriched and honoured by many of my encounters during the experience.

Betty Trask judge Alex Preston agreed:

It was thrilling to encounter such a strange, rich and often dazzling collection of novels when reading for this year’s prize… Choosing our winners was difficult, but we ended up with a handful of novels that will, I believe, not only delight and engage those who read them now but will endure into the future.

The winners will be announced at the 1 June 2022 at an in-venue ceremony at Southwark Cathedral, which will also be livestreamed. Also to be announced on the night are the winners of the Travelling Scholarships, Cholmondeley Awards, Eric Gregory Awards and Somerset Maugham Awards.

Donate to our Contingency Fund for authors by buying any of our shortlisted books from Bookshop.org.


The shortlistees for each award are:

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), 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 Claire Fuller, Sophie Haydock, Billy Kahora and Mary Watson. 

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  • Roland Watson-Grant for The Disappearance of Mumma Dell
  • David Frankel for The Memory System
  • Dean Gessie for Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
  • Ben Tufnell for Last Days
  • Sheila Armstrong for Red Market
  • Kanya D’Almeida for I Cleaned the—

ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award judge Claire Fuller said:

It’s been such a joy to choose a shortlist for the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award. Each story has given me a view into a tiny magical world, showing me places, situations and characters I instantly believed in, whether they were based in reality or something more odd and unsettling, and the writing in each story was of course, outstanding.

​Previous winners include DM O’Connor, Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman.

Total prize fund: £1,575.

Betty Trask Prize & Awards

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

Judged by Sara Collins, Michael Donkor, and Alex Preston.

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  • Megan Nolan for Acts of Desperation (Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House)
  • Natasha Brown for Assembly (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin General)
  • Will McPhail for IN: The Graphic Novel (Hodder & Stoughton, Sceptre)
  • Caleb Azumah Nelson for Open Water (Penguin Random House, Viking)
  • A. K. Blakemore for The Manningtree Witches (Granta Books)

Betty Trask Prize & Awards judge Alex Preston said:

It was thrilling to encounter such a strange, rich and often dazzling collection of novels when reading for this year’s prize. I felt the presence of Rachel Cusk in many of the works: nameless or shadowy protagonists, formal inventiveness, a recognition of the fertile creative territory that lies between memoir and fiction. Choosing our winners was difficult, but we ended up with a handful of novels that will, I believe, not only delight and engage those who read them now, but will endure into the future.

Previous winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters.

Total prize and award fund: £26,200.

Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize is 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. In memory of Malcolm Lowry and endowed by Gordon Bowker, his biographer, and Ramdei Bowker.

Judged by Caroline Brothers, Philip Hensher and Aamer Hussein.

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  • Olivia Sudjic for Asylum Road (Bloomsbury)
  • Jamie O’Connell for Diving For Pearls (Doubleday / Transworld / Penguin Random House)
  • Catherine Menon for Fragile Monsters (Penguin General, Viking)
  • Tessa McWatt for The Snow Line (Scribe UK)
  • Sheila Llewellyn for Winter in Tabriz (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton)

The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize judge Caroline Brothers said:

The shortlist for the inaugural Volcano Prize represents some of the most adventurous works of contemporary fiction, each grappling in different ways with the forces that are shaping the modern world… In their journeys away from home, these novels stood out for their sophisticated understanding of people, places and history, for their courage in exploring complexity and the search for meaning, for the way they harnessed the power of language to help us see the world with fresh eyes.

Total prize fund: £2,750

McKitterick Prize

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

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

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  • Lisa Taddeo for Animal (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Claire-Louise Bennett for Checkout 19 (Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House)
  • Rachel Yoder for  Nightbitch (Penguin Random House)
  • David Annand for Peterdown (Little, Brown Book Group, Corsair imprint)
  • Celeste Mohammed for Pleasantview (Jacaranda Books)
  • Oana Aristide for Under The Blue (Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail imprint)

McKitterick Prize judge Anietie Isong said:

The shortlisted titles take us on a spiralling journey. We glimpse the dark side of paradise, meet the likeable residents of an industrial town and follow three souls on a quest for survival in a post-pandemic world. A woman flees her home in search of answers and another navigates the complexities of motherhood. These are deeply engaging works that swell with vitality.

Previous winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petinah Gappah.

Total prize fund: £5,250.

Paul Torday Memorial Prize

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 published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60.

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

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  • John Fletcher for Wuhan (Head of Zeus)
  • Jane Fraser for Advent (Honno Press)
  • Anthony English for Death of a Coast Watcher (Monsoon Books)
  • Yvonne Bailey-Smith for The Day I Fell Off My Island (Myriad Editions)
  • Michael Mallon for The Disciple (Zuleika)

Paul Torday Memorial Prize judge Donald S Murray said:

Judging the Paul Torday Award was like embarking on an exploration of the world, both in its past and present shapes and forms. It took me to a wide range of times and places, to edges of both history and humanity where I had rarely stepped before. I felt both enriched and honoured by many of my encounters during the experience.

​Previous winners were Kathy O’Shaughnessy, Anne Youngson and Donald S Murray.

Total prize fund: £1,000.

Queen’s Knickers Award

The Queen’s Knickers Award is an annual prize founded by Nicholas Allan, author of The Queen’s Knickers, for an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. It recognises books that strike a quirky, new note and grab the attention of a child, whether this be in the form of curiosity, amusement, horror or excitement.

Judged by Lauren Child, Petr Horácek and Patrice Lawrence. 

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  • Inch and Grub written by Alastair Chisholm, illustrated by David Roberts (Walker Books)
  • Maybe…written and illustrated by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
  • An Interesting Word for Every Day of the Year written by Dr Meredith L. Rowe, illustrated by Monika Forsberg (Magic Cat Publishing)
  • At This Very Moment written and illustrated by Matthew Hodson (Cicada Books)
  • While You’re Sleeping written by Mick Jackson, illustrated by John Broadley (Pavilion Children’s Books)

The Queen’s Knickers Award judge Petr Horácek said:

It was a privilege and a big responsibility to work on this year’s shortlist for the Queen’s Knickers Award. I’m pleased to say that the variety of submitted titles is also reflected in the shortlist itself… The selected titles all vary in some ways, but have one thing in common; they are outstanding and original illustrated books that strike a quirky, new note and grab the attention of a child.

Previous winners include Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Daine Ewen, and Elena Arevalo Melville.

Total prize fund: £6,000.

SoA Awards 2022 open for entries, including new travel-inspired Volcano Prize

9 August 2021

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