The British Book Awards 2021, considered to be the ‘Baftas of the book world’, have been announced with some surprising winners.
A teenage activist has beaten former President Barack Obama to win the award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year with Diary of a Young Naturalist making him the youngest winner ever in the history of the awards at only 17 years old. A children’s non-fiction book on Black history by David Olusoga won the award for Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction, and the Children’s Fiction award going to the intriguing The Highland Falcon Thief’ by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman.
Shuggie Bain by Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, was chosen as the overall Book of the Year, beating nine other contenders for the award. Judge Peter Frankopan explained how hard it was to judge such vastly different books but the decision was made because Stuart’s book is one that could be considered a classic in 20 years time.
“It is an immensely powerful book and an unusual one too. We were incredibly impressed by the writing, but also by the way the book came about, and by how it was supported by the author and the publisher. A very worthy winner from a very strong field,” he added.
Take a look at the winning titles below and see for yourself if you agree with the judges’ decisions.
Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart
Book of the Year- Overall and Debut Novel
“Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings.
A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Édouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell.”
Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell
Book of the Year- Fiction
“A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerising, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.”
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
Book of the Year- Page Turner
“Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.”
Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith
Book of the Year- Crime and Thriller Fiction
“A breathtaking, labyrinthine epic, Troubled Blood is the fifth Strike and Robin novel and the most gripping and satisfying yet.
Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough—who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974.
As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly.”
Diary of a Young Naturalist – Dara McAnulty
Book of the Year- Non-Fiction Narrative
“Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of a year in Dara’s Northern Ireland home patch. Beginning in spring―when “the sparrows dig the moss from the guttering and the air is as puffed out as the robin’s chest”―these diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are vivid, evocative, and moving.”
Skincare – Caroline Hirons
Book of the Year- Non-Fiction Lifestyle
“Skincare is the go-to book for people of all ages and skin types who want to feel and look fantastic. It explains the facts, the myths and the best way to get good skin – on any budget. With everything from Caroline’s signature cheat sheets, simple tips and tricks to glow (inside and out!) understanding ingredients lists, and advice on how to choose the products that are right for you, this is the ultimate guide to healthier, brighter skin.”
Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty
Audiobook of the Year
“In this inspiring, empowering book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk in the Vedic tradition to show us how we can clear the roadblocks to our potential and power. Drawing on ancient wisdom and his own rich experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that lie within all of us.
The lessons monks learn are profound but often abstract. Shetty transforms them into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve focus, improve relationships, identify our hidden abilities, increase self-discipline and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. Shetty proves that everyone can – and should – think like a monk.”
Black and British – David Olusoga
Book of the Year- Children’s Illustrated and Non-Fiction
“A short, essential introduction to Black British history for readers of 12+ by award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga.
When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution?
These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian’s Wall right up to the present day.
This children’s version of the bestseller Black and British: A Forgotten History is illustrated with maps, photos and portraits.”
The Highland Falcon Thief – M.G Leonard and Sam Sedgman
Book of the Year- Children’s Fiction
“When eleven-year-old Harrison “Hal” Beck is forced to accompany his travel-writer uncle on the last journey of a royal train, he expects a boring trip spent away from video games and children his age.
But then Hal spots a girl who should not be on board, and he quickly makes friends with the stowaway, Lenny. Things get even more interesting when the royal prince and princess board for the last leg of the journey―because the princess’s diamond necklace is soon stolen and replaced with a fake! Suspicion falls on the one person who isn’t supposed to be there: Lenny.
It’s up to Hal, his keen observation, and his skill as a budding sketch artist to uncover the real jewel thief, clear his friend’s name, and return the diamond necklace before The Highland Falcon makes its last stop.”