Eyes on the Prize: 2023 Book Prizes to Look Out For
By Brodie Mckenzie and Grace Briggs-Jones
It’s the beginning of a new year – hi 2023! – which means we’re about to be blessed with a new batch of nominees and winners for some of our favourite book prizes. The former half of the year is always an exciting time for us bookish individuals, especially since it boasts prize announcements from decidedly impactful organisations, including the Booker Prize, the British Book Awards, the Women’s Prize for Fiction and many, many more.
Prizes can have a clear impact on the books we choose to read. Longlist, shortlist and winner announcements alike have certainly influenced us to pick up a book we ordinarily wouldn’t have chosen ourselves – and on more than one occasion! Literary prizes help to platform books which otherwise may slip through the cracks, garnering consumer interest and pushing book sales, making them incredibly important to authors, agents and publishers alike. On that note, let’s get to the important bit: read on for an outline of the prizes we’re most excited about this year.
The Booker Prize is one of the foremost literary prizes in the UK and recognises some of the greatest English-language works in the world. Last year’s winner, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, was highly praised by booksellers, critics and readers. Following the prize announcement, the novel has experienced a massive global sales boost with its publisher – UK indie outfit Sort of Books – reprinting over 70,000 hardback copies alone.
Judges for the prize were announced recently. The panel will be chaired by novelist Esi Edugyan, twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, who will be joined by Adjoa Andoh, actor, writer and director; Mary Jean Chan, poet, lecturer, editor and critic; James Shapiro, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author specialising in Shakespeare; and Robert Webb, actor and writer. Judges will be assessing the best works in long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK and Ireland between 1 October 2022 and 30 September 2023. Stay tuned for the longlist in July 2023, the September Shortlist and, of course, the winner announcement in late Autumn.
The British Book Awards, aka the Nibbies, is a celebration of books, affirming, connecting and energising the world of reading by showcasing the best authors and illustrators who have managed to stir our imaginations. It also celebrates the industry behind our much-loved books awarding prizes to the publishers. But what the Nibbies do best is celebrating the intimate connection between the books, their makers and the audience. Some of last year’s winners include Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson and Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera.
This year’s entries are already open with the deadline being set for the 3 February, so there’s still time for your favourites to be nominated. The Independent Bookshops Regional and Small Press Regional Winners will be announced on the 15 and 16 March respectively with the much anticipated Nibbies shortlist being announced on the 17 March. There is then a two-month wait to find out the winners with the British Book Awards Ceremony being held in person and online on the 15 May. If that is too long to wait you can always view the British Book Awards 2022 livestream on The Bookseller website to get you in the mood. Whilst the wait may seem long it will definitely be worth it when the shortlists are announced!
The Pulitzer Prize was first awarded in 1917 and is named after Joseph Pulitzer who made his fortune as a newspaper publisher. Prizes are awarded in twenty-one categories including newspaper, magazine, online journalism, musical composition and literature. Any work can be submitted and these works are called entrants. The jury then selects a group of nominated finalists which are announced at the same time as the winner from each category. The winner of last year’s fiction award was The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family by Joshua Cohen with the other two finalists being Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman and Palmares by Gayl Jones. This year’s winners and nominated finalists will be announced on the 9 May and chosen by the 2023 Board Members consisting of eighteen individuals. What makes this award exciting is the fact that only the board members know whose work has been nominated and the public will not know until winners are announced, so mark the 9 May in the calendar!
Whilst it is only the start of the year it is never too early to be excited about the upcoming prizes, with the first few months filled with longlist and shortlist announcements, with some winners being announced as early as May. We will be sure to keep you up to date with the latest announcements.