By Ameenah Khan, Caitlin Evans and Holly Mahoney
Crime writing is a beloved genre in the modern literary landscape, and in turn, the prize-giving scene is set up to reward those championing the genre. The leading UK crime-writing awards, The Daggers, have recently released their longlist for 2021’s pool and no stone was left unturned in scouring the nominations.
There are eleven Dagger awards up for grabs, with seven being nominated by publishers within the categories of: historical, thriller, translation, debut, best of the year, non-fiction, and short story. The judging period has been carefully scheduled to align the winners’ ceremony with publication of nominated books, in order to fully celebrate the longlisted books and promote them to be received by readers across the nation.
The 2021 Award Longlists: Gold Dagger, John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Sapere Books Historical Dagger, Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger, ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, Short Story Dagger, Debut Dagger, Dagger in the Library, Publishers’ Dagger and Margery Allingham Longlist.
The Daggers are awarded by the Crime Writers’ Association which was founded in 1953. Since then, the association has thrived in meeting its goals to support and celebrate authors of the crime genre. The CWA pride themselves on being an all-encompassing community, welcoming and promoting writers of crime in forms. From psychological to non-fiction, from supernatural to thriller, they have it covered. Not only do their members span a variety of crime-writing, but they also make up a cross-section of people from all sides of the publishing industry and in all stages of careers. Through the CWA, senior literary agents can connect with budding young debut writers in their shared passion for crime-writing.
As such, the annual Dagger award longlists are highly anticipated as the first step in the year towards announcing the winners of each category. Judging is conducted independently by industry professionals who have been elected by the CWA board. Let’s find out who they have selected for the 2021 longlists.
Longlisted for the CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger 2021 is Jo Nesbo’s The Kingdom. The thriller is a story that takes its readers by the hand into a fictional world based in Norway. The novel explores various themes of family, love and most importantly, loyalty. Perhaps the factor that encouraged this book to find its way onto the longlist is the way in which Nesbo creates his characters. Roy and Carl are two brothers whose relationship we observe throughout the plot of the story and for many readers, it’s as though these brothers actually exist. Known for his Harry Hole series, Jo Nesbo took a different approach with The Kingdom as it’s a stand-alone crime novel. Despite this, many seemed to love it, so there is no doubt about how it secured a spot on this year's long list.
One of the long listed authors for the Gold Dagger award this year is Amer Anwar for his famous novel Stone Cold Trouble. It is indeed the latest instalment in the Zaq and Jags series so therefore an unmissable read. The protagonists Zaq and Jag find themselves on yet another adventure but this time, they’re suspected of murder. Bringing together both their brain powers, Zaq and Jag attempt to figure out a way to remove themselves from such a deadly situation. Do they succeed? That’s something you’ll have to find out by picking up the novel and giving it a read. Like all his other novels, Anwar goes above and beyond to represent the Asian community in his novel whilst also keeping the novel jam packed with mystery and thrill. You can find the novel at your local bookshop!
Alongside these prestigious awards, are a vast collection of awards which celebrate the art of crime writing in its many forms, by authors at many stages of their literary career. This is what sets the Crime Writers’ Associate longlist far apart from its competitors. In the same breath as honouring the biggest publishing houses with awards for their contribution to crime literature, they also seek to find the best as-yet unpublished crime writing to celebrate. The Margery Allingham short story competition shines a light on the world of unpublished writing, demonstrating the importance of nurturing new talent. Similarly, the Debut Dagger also celebrates the first published works of crime writers.
The Daggers awards really do span the whole spectrum of crime writing whilst also striking the balance between offering prestigious awards, without being pretentious or elitist, like so many literary prizes fall victim to. Whatever your preference may be, whether you like your crime writing fictitious or not, as a novel or a short story, the CWA longlist is definitely one to keep an eye on for upcoming talent and new avenues of crime writing to explore.