The Northern Book Prize is a prize run annually for unpublished, completed book-length works of literary merit written in English by a writer, of any nationality or descent, who lives in the North of England or who has a strong connection to the North. The author’s previous history is not important for the prize’s judging – the author can be a prize-winning household name or have never before submitted a line anywhere. Both kinds of authors enter; we judge the prize on the merit of the book at hand.
When And Other Stories relocated its main office to the city of Sheffield, we conceived of the Prize as part of our commitment to Northern writers and to growing publishing in the North.
As our editor Tara Tobler said:
We hope to tap some of the extraordinary literary energy in the North and are confident the prize will only grow in prestige and popularity in the years to come.
History / The Story So Far
2018 – Winner: Slip of a Fish by Amy Arnold. (Judges: Ian McMillan, Conor O’Callaghan, Tara Tobler and Claire Malcolm.)
After winning the 2018 Northern Book Prize, Slip of a Fish was published by And Other Stories in the UK and Europe in November 2018 (and North America in July 2019) to great acclaim, including reaching the shortlist of the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize for innovative fiction alongside writers like Deborah Levy and Lucy Ellman. The novel received a full-page rave Guardian review, and other strong reviews, including in the Irish Times, Sheffield Telegraph and the Times Literary Supplement.
Judges’ Praise: ‘A fearless test of empathy, a tender sounding of a mind long since overgrown, and a disturbingly sensual work with a prose that skitters, sinks, hooks, pulls, resists, and flips high in gorgeous blinding flashes, Slip of a Fish heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in English fiction.’
2019 – (Judges: Sarah Moss, Fiona Mozley and Stefan Tobler.)
In 2019, the judges found merit and potential across the internally shortlisted entries but after long discussion decided not to award the prize. We at And Other Stories, the prize administrator, believe that for the prize’s integrity, the possibility of not awarding the prize should be among the judges’ options, and is so stated in the Terms and Conditions. We should add that we feel this result is unlikely to occur again.
2020 – Winner: Fit by Sammy Wright. (Judges: Amy Arnold, Sunjeev Sahota and Daniel Trilling and And Other Stories’ senior editor Tara Tobler)
The 2020 Northern Book Prize judges commented on Fit: ‘Tender, tough, plainspoken and powerful, Sammy Wright’s Fit is a nimble debut from a strong and wise new voice in British fiction. We were impressed by the vivid physicality of its setting and characters, by its simple yet arresting dialogue, by its dry and understated wit, and perhaps most by the sheer memorability of the thing: its portrait of teenage life and foster care in a marginalised Northern town remained with all of us long after we’d read it.’
Sammy Wright said, of winning the Prize: ‘I am beyond delighted to win the Northern Book Prize. In twenty years of teaching I’ve always wanted to express something of what I have seen in a way that captures the intensity and nuance of young people’s lives. In recent years, that has been matched by a need to show the psychological costs of the divisions in our society. I cannot thank the judges enough for their recognition.’