Literary Award Season: How many shortlists can I read?

The answer to that question, based on my previous 18 months of reading, is ‘not many’.

Having read only 10 books in 2017 and not reading a book since October, I have suddenly had a burst of reading energy and have read 3 books in the last fortnight.

With this renewed enthusiasm for reading (which I hope continues) I am excited about the following book prizes that will take place in the coming months:

Petrona Award

Shortlist: Shortly after 12 April
Winner: Saturday 19 May at Crime Fest

This is by far my favourite book prize and every year I come very close to reading the entire shortlist before the big announcement. This is also the only prize I kept following during my 18 month reading slump!

All shortlisted books are always excellent and each year I discover a new author or two.

Having looked through this year’s eligible books I particularly like the look of the following. Some I have read, others are already on my Kindle and the rest have been added to my TBR list.

Thomas Enger – Cursed tr. Kari Dickson
K O Dahl – Faithless tr. Don Bartlett
Johana Gustawsson – Block 46 tr. Maxim Jakubowski
Jorn Lier Horst – When It Grows Dark tr. Anne Bruce
Hans Olav Lahlum – The Anthill Murders tr. Kari Dickson
Gunnar Staalesen – Wolves in the Dark tr. Don Bartlett
Antti Tuomainen – The Man Who Died tr. David Hackston

A lot of stories from Norway and a lot of books from the wonderful Orenda Publishing!

There are also two more worthy mentions that I don’t think will make the shortlist based on the competition and because they may not be niche enough Scandi crime (the burden of international success!) but I will give them a highly commended:

Jussi Adler-Olsen – The Scarred Woman tr. William Frost
Hakan Nesser – The Darkest Day tr. Sarah Death

Stella Award 

Shortlist – already announced
Winner – 12 April 

For the last two years* I haven’t been too excited by the Stella shortlist but this year it looks fantastic. Most importantly, this is the first year all the titles are available in the UK, mostly in Kindle format.
(*I think the 2015 shortlist has been a hard one to follow). 

I would love to try and read all six books before the big announcement but unfortunately I don’t think I will have the time or tenacity to read Alexis Wright’s 600+ page tome. Instead, I might read Sofie Laguna’s The Choke which appeared on the longlist.

Miles Franklin Award 

Longlist – May 2018
Shortlist – June 2018
Winner – July 2018 

The website for this prize remains perpetually vague about dates and reasonably difficult to navigate. Social media comments last year accurately pointed out it is far from being user friendly for a booklover.

I didn’t follow the prize last year but over the past weekend I looked at the shortlist and realised I want to read a few of the titles, particularly Waiting by Philip Salom. I am now excited for the 2018 prize. Hopefully all titles will be available in the UK as with the Stella Prize.

Women’s Prize 

Longlist – 8 March (announced)
Shortlist – 23 April
Winner – 6 June 

About 10-15 years ago I always used the long and shortlisted titles for this prize as a good addition to my reading list but fell out of doing this when I began to feel bored with stories that seemed too similar, predictable and underwhelming. A range of titles each year also became harder to source. This year there are a number of titles on the longlist I would definitely like to read:

H(A)PPYby Nicola BarkerManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

My own shortlist of six! Based on the blurbs from the other books I don’t necessarily think these six will all be shortlisted but the are the ones that have piqued my interest in my quest to read for pleasure.

Man Booker International 

Longlist – 12 March
Shortlist – 12 April
Winner – 22 June 

I’ve read a couple of winners from this prize but have never really followed the prize. If I get time this year I’d love to read the shortlist (to also see how my opinion fares against the Shadow jury whose blog posts I enjoy each year). Reading one or two from the shortlist may end up being wishful thinking but it’s always good to have a plan!

4 thoughts on “Literary Award Season: How many shortlists can I read?

  1. Like you, I have to flex all my reading muscle at this time of the year! I commit to the Stella shortlist, although I will be pushing to get through Tracker by April 12. There’s lots on the Women’s Prize longlist that appeals but I’ll probably wait for the shortlist before getting stuck in!

    • I have only read two of the Stella shortlist so far (Terra Nullius and Life to Come) but hope to read The Greengage Tree and The Fish Girl before the announcement. I don’t know if An Uncertain Grace will be too much for me content wise so I have relegated that to ‘if there is time.’
      I am curious about how you find Tracker (if you get through it). Unfortunately it’s not one I am going to attempt…

  2. How lovely to see your name pop up on my feed again.

    My enthusiasm for the longlists and shortlists waxes and wanes, but I’m excited by the inclusion of The Engagement of the Greengage Tree on the Stella shortlist this year. Kate will probably disagree with me as magical realism is NOT her thing, but I adored this book & feel so confident that it will win, that I haven’t bothered to check out the rest of the list!

    I also really liked See What I Have Done (but you can see Kate for a different opinion:-)

    The International Dublin Lit Prize has the most ridiculous longlist ever, but there are some really interesting titles on there (if you have the time to shift through all the pages). The Man Booker International also has a couple I’m intrigued by included The Stolen Bicycle & Flights.

    I hope you’re reading enthusiasm continues on…

    • Hi Brona,

      It’s really nice to hear from you and it feels good to be back blogging.
      I have read two on the Stella shortlist so far (Life to Come and Terra Nullius) and plan to start reading The Greengage Tree later today. I usually dislike magic realism myself but after having read some interesting interviews with the author I am curious. Also, it does sound original and innovative which is what I like and also (hopefully) what the Stella is all about.

      Will keep you posted!

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