Scottish comedian among winners at Caffe Nero’s inaugural book awards

One of four category winners will be awarded the book of the year award and receive £30,000.

Scottish comedian Fern Brady is one of four authors who have been named category winners at the inaugural Nero Book Awards 2024.

The winners will receive £5,000 each and the yet-to-be-announced overall victor will take home the book of the year title and an additional £30,000.

The awards, launched by high street coffee chain Caffe Nero in 2023, celebrates the craft of writing and the four category winners were chosen by 12 judges who selected books from the UK and Ireland over the last 12 months.

Brady, 37, known for appearing on TV game show Taskmaster, won in the non-fiction category for her memoir Strong Female Character, which details her experience being diagnosed with autism.

Dublin-born author Paul Murray won the fiction category for The Bee Sting, which follows an Irish family facing financial and emotional troubles.

His novel was also shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize but he was beaten by fellow Irish writer Paul Lynch who won with Prophet Song.

The winner of the Nero children’s fiction category is Newcastle-based writer Beth Lincoln for murder mystery The Swifts, illustrated by Claire Powell.

Northern Irish author Michael Magee won the debut fiction prize for Close To Home, which details the story of a young man who comes home to Belfast after university and has to grapple with the aftermath of an assault he commits at a party.

One of these four books will be selected as the overall winner and recipient of the Nero Gold Prize book of the year, which will be announced at a ceremony on March 14.

A final judging panel, led by Bernardine Evaristo, who was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 2019 with Girl, Woman, Other, will select the overall winner.

Gerry Ford, founder and group chief executive of Caffe Nero, said: “The Nero Book Awards are a hugely important part of our programme to sponsor the arts and support creative excellence.

“The four winning books represent the very best writing from the UK and Ireland and we are proud at Caffe Nero to create a platform that celebrates home-grown talent, and to offer a total prize pot of £50,000.

“Our judges have selected four brilliant books that will appeal to readers of all tastes.

The judging panel will be led by author Bernardine Evaristo (Suzan Moore/PA).

“My congratulations to the winning authors, and thank you to our judges, partners and the wider publishing industry for engaging with these awards so enthusiastically in our first year.

“It is our goal that these awards come to represent a badge of exceptional quality which is seen as aspirational for authors and within the industry and a trustworthy recommendation for readers.”

Evaristo said: “At a time when literature is under threat from the addictive distractions of social media and the internet, literary prizes not only celebrate individual writers and elevate careers, but draw attention to a beautiful art form that requires and rewards sustained concentration and engagement with words, other people’s lives, and the imagination.

“The Nero Book Awards are a major new prize.

“I’m looking forward to chairing the Nero Gold Prize, and selecting a book from the category winners that offers readers exceptional riches, one which we judges think deserves to be honoured as the overall book of the year.”

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