Young Writer of the Year Award: Shadow Panel

I am honoured and delighted to be part of the Shadow Panel for the Young Writer of the Year Award for 2020. Several of my blogging friends have been involved in this in the past, and I was always curious just how easy it is to come to an agreement about the winner.

However you may feel about age limitations on prizes (as someone who is *slightly* over the age of 35, I do feel the pain, I can assure you!), it is nevertheless one of the most exciting annual prizes for British and Irish writing, because it looks across a breadth of genres. It is an annual award of £5,000, co-sponsored by the Sunday Times and the University of Warwick, for an outstanding work of fiction, poetry, non fiction or anything else published in the previous year by a writer under 35.  The list of previous winners is spectacular – from Raymond Antrobus with his poetry collection last year (a personal favourite, who’s just going from strength to strength), Sally Rooney and Max Porter in recent years (after a hiatus between 2010-2015), and Zadie Smith, Sarah Waters, Helen Simpson and Robert MacFarlane in the past. 

You can find more information about the prize and this year’s judges (which include Kit de Waal and Tessa Hadley) on this website. The shortlist will be announced on the 1st of November and I cannot wait to start reading, debating and choosing a winner with my fellow shadow panelists.

And what an exciting bunch of people they are! I think you can take it as a given that we are all obsessed with books and reading, but here are some more details about my fellow panellists.

Aren’t we a lovely, thoughtful-looking group of people?
  • Ova Ceren is a software developer, book lover and collector, who is active both on her blog Excuse My Reading and on Instagram.
  • Charlie Edwards-Freshwater is known as The Book Boy on Instagram, he also works in book sales and is an aspiring novelist.
  • Hope Ndaba works as a publicity assistant in publishing, blogs as Black Book Bitch and is also active on Instagram.
  • Sissi Zhang is a London-based book blogger and is likewise an Bookstagrammer
  • (I think you can tell who is the dunce here, since I don’t have an active Instagram account).

Over the course of November, you can expect a review of each shortlisted title and I will link where possible to reviews from my fellow shadow judges. We will announce the Shadow Panel Winner on the 3rd of December and the Awards Ceremony and Final Winner will be announced (in an online event) on the 10th of December. Well, if that doesn’t brighten up your late autumn days…

24 thoughts on “Young Writer of the Year Award: Shadow Panel”

    1. Not like I didn’t have enough on my plate already this coming month, but this is such a great prize, bringing hitherto less well known genres or books to the forefront.

    1. So many of the bloggers I love and admire have been on this Shadow Panel in the past 5 years since it restarted, and you all seem to have had a great experience with it, so I’m really looking forward to it!

    1. I remember a word of warning from Heather O’Neill when she had been a judge for the Giller Prize in Canada: she said that often the second favourite book of all the judges wins the prize, because their favourite is always something different and they cannot reach a compromise. So, we’ll see, it will be fun!

    1. I always thought I’d be a more obvious candidate for a translated fiction shadow panel rather than a Young Writer one (ahem!), but I’ll take the compliment! Seriously, it will be fun, and I can’t wait to see what the shortlist is and get started.

  1. Congratulations, Marina Sofia! This will be such an exciting thing, and I hope you’ll keep us updated about it. It’s a well-deserved honour, and I know you’ll enjoy the experience.

    1. I’m really looking forward to it too! Luckily, they promised it wouldn’t be a very long shortlist (some prizes have 6-7-8 on the shortlist, which is a bit hard to read and review in just one month).

    1. I do hope you’ll be able to join in, and thank you for getting me involved with it all in the first place. (I think I also heard about it first from you, a few years back).

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