#YoungWriterAward: Shadow Panel Winner

And the Shadow Panel’s choice for the Winner of the Young Writer of the Year 2020 is:

Well, does that surprise you? I think it did us! And I’ll be honest with you: the fact that we were all based remotely probably had an impact on the decision. It meant that we couldn’t spend a cosy afternoon together in a bookshop or cafe somewhere in London and have an extensive chinwag and try to persuade each other that our personal favourite deserved to win.

So instead of silver-tongued influencing skills, we took the scientific approach and individually awarded points from 5 to 1 (5 being the favourite), then added up the totals. We ignored considerations such as who had won before, what genre it was, worthiness of subject matter and just went for gut feeling. Which one did we enjoy reading and which one did we find most memorable? It was a close race at the very top between three of the shortlisted titles, and then two pulled ahead, with our winner just nudging the win by a tiny margin. I think that shows the high standard of the shortlisted titles – or perhaps the diversity of views of the Shadow Panel!

You can see the official announcement of the Shadow Panel decision here. All I can say is that, even in its remote version, it has been an honour and a pleasure to be part of the Shadow Panel and share our bookish thoughts. Now we all have to wait until the 10th of December to see what the judges will pick!

9 thoughts on “#YoungWriterAward: Shadow Panel Winner”

  1. Wow! Great choice! I am indeed surprised, but from running the Wellcome Book Prize shadow panel for several years I know that this is how things can go. (We do the same thing, awarding points from 1 to 6 and adding up.) Sometimes we find that it’s everyone’s second-favourite that ends up being the least divisive and thus getting the most points.

    It has been such a pleasure reading this year’s shortlist and following along with the shadow panel reviews. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the experience. Looking forward to next week’s announcement!

    1. I hasten to add that this was not everyone’s second choice by any means! It was first choice for quite a few of the judges. But it was a surprise given the conversations leading up to the final decision (we discussed as we read in the weeks prior). Sometimes, it takes some time to digest all of the reading, rather than decide on the spur of the moment.

      1. Understood! We’ve had some divisive titles over the years with the WBP that some loved and others hated. I can see that there was nothing quite like that in your list.

  2. Ha! I was convinced it would be Surge or Tongues of Fire. I wonder what the judges will come up with. The shadow panel I was on did have a get together in London although, sadly, Paul from HalfManHalfBook spent the whole time on a delayed train, having got on around 7am. Funnily enough, I think he got the casting vote!

    1. Aaaargh (about being on a delayed train, I mean)! That is the beauty of remote connection, I suppose, at least we don’t have to suffer the chaos of travel.
      I wonder if your conviction about it being a poetry winner might have been because of my reviews and my love for poetry… sorry, didn’t mean to mislead anyone!

  3. I know just what you mean about working remotely, Marina Sofia. I’ve felt much the same way with the Ngaio Marsh Awards. We all worked remotely, and I think it does impact thinking and decision-making. Thanks for the work you all did on this!

  4. I’m so glad that you were able to be a part of the shadow panel again, and although it must be at least a half marathon in reading terms, what a joy to be doing what you love and are good at!

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