Marcus Rashford’s “inspirational” children’s debut You Are a Champion (Macmillan Children’s Books), co-written with Carl Anka, has won Book of the Year at this year’s British Book Awards, with Marian Keyes crowned Author of the Year and Dapo Adeola taking the illustrator prize.
Footballer and campaigner Rashford was named the overall Book of the Year winner and also won the Children’s Non-Fiction category on 23rd May at Grosvenor House London, in the first in-person “Nibbies” ceremony since 2019.
Book of the Year judge, broadcaster and presenter Gabby Logan said Rashford and his publisher had “succeeded spectacularly” in inspiring a generation of children who are often hard to reach and for whom books might not have been a big part of their childhood.
“The campaign to get his book into the right young hands was focused and brilliant, and sales of over 200,000 copies are testament to this,” she said. “The messaging of You Are a Champion is wholesome and positive and another brilliant example of the legacy that Marcus is sure to leave behind when his playing days are long gone. ”
Rashford’s win follows the establishment of Macmillan Children’s Books’ Marcus Rashford Book Club in 2021, which has extended its partnership with the National Literacy Trust and KPMG for 2022. Since the publication of You Are a ChampionRashford and Macmillan have worked to donate books to children who otherwise would not get access, with other partners including Magic Breakfast, BT and WH Smith.
Multi-million copy, internationally bestselling author Keyes was named Author of the Year in recognition of “her expert storytelling, incredible warmth of heart, and significant contributions to the publishing industry over three decades of writing”.
Adeola, editor and illustrator of Hey You! (Puffin), which featured 18 other Black illustrators, picked up Children’s Illustrated Book of the Year. He was also awarded Illustrator of the Year, “celebrating his empowering impact on the book world, working tirelessly to represent Black communities while demystifying the industry for aspiring illustrators”.
The overall Book of the Year is chosen from the 12 individual Book of the Year winners, all of which were announced at the ceremony.
Meg Mason won the Fiction prize for the bestselling Sorrow and Bliss (W&N), described as “a publisher’s dream, a writer’s dream and a reader’s dream”. She saw off competition from a shortlist featuring Sally Rooney for Beautiful World Where Are you (Faber) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun. (Faber).
In the Fiction Debut category, Caleb Azumah Nelson beat back the competition of Raven Leilani’s Luster (Picador) and Natasha Brown’s Assembly (Hamish Hamilton) with Open Water (Viking).
The Discover prize, a new award for 2022, recognizing underrepresented voices was awarded to #MerkyBooks and Jade LB’s Keisha the Sket. The book, a re-released viral sensation from the 2000s, Keisha the Sket by Jade LB (#Merky Books), was chosen partly for its unique campaign, resonating with fans old and new. Runners up for the prize were Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (Serpent’s Tail) and Maybe I Do not Belong Here by David Harewood (Bluebird).
Paul McCartney’s major cultural moment publication The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present (Allen Lane), triumphed in the Non-fiction: Lifestyle category, with the former Beatle beaming in to the ceremony with a recorded message. He saw off a shortlist featuring Diddly Squat: A Year on the Farm by Jeremy Clarkson (Michael Joseph) and Pinch of Nom Comfort Food by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone (Bluebird).
Sathnam Sanghera took home the Non-fiction: Narrative prize for his exploration of how imperialism has shaped modern Britain in Empire (Viking), beating memoirs including Billy Connolly’s Windswept & Interesting (Two Roads), Miriam Margolyes’ This Much is True (John Murray Press) and Bob Mortimer’s And Away … (Gallery UK).
In the children’s categoriesWhen The Sky Falls by Phil Earle, Andersen Press’ most successful fiction release ever, was chosen as winner of the Fiction prize from a strong shortlist including The Last Bear by Hannah Goldillustrated by Levi Pinfold (HarperCollins Children’s Books) and The Christmas Pig by JK Rowling, illustrated by Jim Field (Little, Brown Books for Children).
In Fiction: Crime & Thriller, The Dark Remains written by crime-writing legends William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin took the award for “seamlessly blending the two voices and delivering an extraordinary publishing story”. Girl A by Abigail Dean (HarperFiction) and The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (Viking) had also been nominated.
This year’s Pageturner award celebrated a title that was praised for its exquisite writing and astonishing publishing – Clare Chambers’ Small Pleasures (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). The author won over Jane Fallon’s Worst Idea Ever (Michael Joseph) and Sophie Kinsella’s The Party Crasher (Bantam), among others.
Cressida Cowell’s enchanting high adventure story The Wizards of Once: Never and Forever, narrated by David Tennant (Hodder Children’s Books), was celebrated as “the benchmark” for kids’ audiobooks, and took top position in the Audiobook: Fiction category. It won over The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, narrated by Andy Serkis (HarperFiction), The Sandman Act II by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs (Audible), and the audiobook version of Richard Osman’s The Man Who Died Twice.
Finally, the winner of the Audiobook: Non-fiction category was Billy Connolly for his memoir Windswept & Interesting (Two Roads), which was hailed for its impressive sales, attention to detail in production, and “superlative campaign”, beating fellow entertainers Will Smith for Will (Penguin Random House Audio) and Shaun Ryder for How to Be a Rockstar (WF Howes).
Chair of the Book of the Year judges and The Bookseller books editor Alice O’Keeffe said: “We are hugely grateful to our panel of judges for sharing their passion and expertise to choose our 2022 British Book Award winners, which showcase extraordinary, unforgettable writing, along with the enthusiasm and inventiveness of the publishers who bring these books to readers everywhere. ”
The Bookseller‘s editor Philip Jones, chair of the British Book Awards judges, said: “From the advocacy of Marcus Rashford and Dapo Adeolo, to the artistry of Caleb Azumah Nelson, Jade LB and Meg Mason, to the storytelling of Billy Connolly, Marian Keyes , Ian Rankin, and Cressida Cowell, to the history as told by Paul McCartney, Clare Chambers, Phil Earle, and Sathnam Sanghera, this year’s British Book Awards winners show the remarkable breadth and power of publishing today at a moment when the book —And those who make them — delivered. ”
A post-awards highlights show will be available to watch for free on Fane TV from 29th May.