Caffè Nero has announced the shortlists for the inaugural Nero Book Awards, recognising the outstanding books of the past 12 months across four categories including children’s fiction.
Launched in 2023, and run as a not-for-profit organisation, the Awards’ mission is to help readers of all ages and interests discover outstanding books from the past year through recommendation.
The judges in the children’s category are Urmi Merchant is the co-founder and director of the children’s specialist bookshop and events space Pickled Pepper Books, in north London; Dave Rudden, author of the award-winning Knights of the Borrowed Dark series; and award-winning journalist, TV presenter and author, Nick Sheridan.
The four books they have selected are:
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher (Bloomsbury YA)
The judges said: ‘This is an effortlessly gripping and witty take on the heartaches and headaches of forbidden love, with dialogue sharper than Excalibur itself. This book feels like an instant classic of the genre.’
Bitterthorn by Kat Dunn (Andersen Press)
The judges said: ‘A beautifully written, atmospheric, sapphic YA fantasy with its roots in fairytale and gothic fiction, Bitterthorn is at once fresh and timeless.’
Wild Song by Candy Gourlay (David Fickling)
The judges said: ‘This is an unflinching and uncompromising account of womanhood, racism and conformity – as well as simply being a rollicking good read.’
The Swifts by Beth Lincoln (Puffin). Illustrated by Claire Powell
‘Fast-paced, fiercely charismatic and brimming with challenge and heart, The Swifts is everything a book for young people should be.’
The Nero Book Awards are part of Caffè Nero’s programme to sponsor the arts. Caffè Nero is an independent, family-owned business. It has embraced many cultural and intellectual endeavours since its start in 1997, supporting outstanding new singer-songwriters, exceptional writers, quality designers and excellent photography. The Nero Book Awards are run in partnership with Right to Dream, Brunel University London and The Booksellers Association. A not-for-profit organisation, the Awards celebrate the craft of great writing and the joy of reading, providing readers of all tastes with a combination of high-quality writing and readability.
Gerry Ford, Founder and CEO of Caffè Nero commented: ‘The Nero Book Awards are important to Caffè Nero and to me because of our interest in bringing the arts, cultural programmes and intellectual pursuits to our coffee houses. The response from publishers and authors to these Awards has been tremendous, and I’m excited by the quality books that the judges have shortlisted. We hope readers of all tastes will enjoy these books and recommend them to others.’
Amanda Johnson, Awards Director, adds: ‘The announcement of our shortlist is such an exciting milestone for the Nero Book Awards. We have here an incredible range of books that will speak to a variety of different audiences, from books based on true stories to fantasies to explorations of self, place and landscape. Huge congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and their publishers. We hope that everyone will find a new favourite book on this list.’
A winning title from each of the four categories will be announced on 16th January 2024 and, of those, one book will be selected as the overall winner – The Nero Gold Prize – by a final panel of judges and announced at a ceremony in late February 2024. Each of the category winners receives £5,000, with the overall Nero Gold Prize – Book of the Year winner receiving an additional £30,000.