Caffè Nero unveils inaugural Nero Book Awards shortlist

Caffè Nero has revealed the shortlist for its inaugural Nero book awards, filling the void left by the discontinued Costa awards. 

Notable contenders include Irish novelist Paul Murray, recognised for The Bee Sting, a comedic family saga also vying for the Booker prize. Megan Nolan’s Ordinary Human Failings joins the fiction lineup, exploring a family entangled in crime, while Booker-winning author Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood and Karen Powell’s Fifteen Wild Decembers, a reimagination of the Brontë family, complete the category.

In the debut fiction category, Irish writers Michael Magee and Chloe Michelle Howarth feature for Close to Home and Sunburn, respectively. London Review of Books contributor Tom Crewe is recognised for The New Life, set against the backdrop of the Oscar Wilde trial, and Stephen Buoro joins the list with The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa, described as “extraordinary” and driven by a “gloriously eccentric” central character.

The non-fiction shortlist comprises works by women, including comedian Fern Brady’s memoir Strong Female Character and Freya Bromley’s The Tidal Year, a reflection on grief and the healing power of swimming.

Social media personality Lex Croucher makes a literary debut on the children’s fiction shortlist with Gwen and Art Are Not in Love. The winners, set to be announced in January, will each receive £5,000, with the overall Nero Gold prize winner receiving an additional £30,000 in February.

The judging panel, featuring Sara Collins, Sarfraz Manzoor, Anthony Quinn, and Dave Rudden, had the task of recommending standout reads. 

Open to books published between December 2022 and November 2023 by authors residing in the UK or Ireland for the past three years, these awards aim to celebrate literary excellence across categories such as fiction, debut fiction, children’s fiction and non-fiction.

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