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Nero Book Awards 2023: Judges and dates announced


The judging panels for the inaugural Nero Book Awards – underwritten and delivered by Caffè Nero in partnership with Brunel University London, The Booksellers Association and Right To Dream – have been announced today by the premium coffee house. 

The Awards launched in May 2023 and are open to writers based in the UK and Ireland. Run as a not-for-profit organisation, the Awards celebrate the craft of great writing and the joy of reading, while also pointing readers of all ages and interests in the direction of outstanding books. 

Submissions for the 2023 Awards, managed by The Booksellers Association, opened in June 2023 for books first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 December 2022 and 30 November 2023. Whilst the administration process remains confidential, The Booksellers Association has reported a significant number of entries in each category, submitted by a wide range of publishers and imprints. Terms & Conditions for the Awards can be found here

With their emphasis on books with wide appeal, the Nero Book Awards recognise the best writing and reads across four categories: Children’s Fiction, Debut Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction

The full judging panels are listed below. They include authors, journalists and booksellers who are simply asked to choose which reads they would most want to recommend to others. 

Children’s Fiction Award

  • Urmi Merchant: Director, Pickled Pepper Books (Crouch End)
  • Dave Rudden: Author
  • Nick Sheridan: Journalist, Television Presenter and Author 

Debut Fiction Award

  • Sara Collins: Novelist and Screenwriter
  • Hattie Crisell: Journalist and Podcaster
  • Tom Robinson: Owner, Gloucester Road Books (Bristol) 

Fiction Award

  • David Coates: Sales and Events Manager, Blackwell’s Manchester
  • Ella Dove: Journalist, Author and Speaker
  • Anthony Quinn: Novelist 

Non-Fiction Award

  • Ben Garrod: Academic, Conservationist, Broadcaster and Author
  • Sarfraz Manzoor: Journalist, Screenwriter and Author
  • Helen Stanton: Owner, Forum Books (Corbridge) 

Gerry Ford, Founder and CEO, Caffè Nero, added: “The Nero Book Awards hold a special place at Caffè Nero as part of our history of sponsoring and encouraging the arts. These awards recognise the best writers in the UK and Ireland and highlight fantastic books to read throughout the year. 

“I’m delighted by the calibre of our judges in the Awards’ inaugural year. The response from publishers and authors to these awards has been tremendous with a huge number of entries. The quality of our judging panels matches that. Everyone at Caffè Nero is so excited to have engaged such talent from across the industry, and as we look to recognise and reward quality writing, I can’t wait to hear what they think of this year’s books.” 

Amanda Johnson, Awards Director, added: “We’re delighted at the response we’ve had from across the publishing industry in our inaugural year. The support means the world and demonstrates that the Awards are a welcome addition to the book prize landscape. We can’t wait to see what year one is going to bring and look forward to seeing our brilliant judges' selections later this autumn.”  

Also announced today are the announcement dates for the 2023 Awards. Four books will be shortlisted by the judges in each of the Award categories; those 16 books will be announced on 21 November 2023. The winners from each category will be announced on 16 January 2024 and those books will go forward for consideration for the 2023 Nero Gold Prize to be announced at a ceremony in London in late February 2024. The date will be announced later this autumn. 

Brunel University London is home to some of the most respected names in the creative writing sector – from award-winning poets to internationally recognised novelists and writers, in a diverse and inspirational Creative Writing department that consistently ranks among the top 10 in the country. 

Find out more about the Nero Book Awards and about Creative Writing at Brunel University London.

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