Society of Authors’ Awards 2020 shortlists announced

The inclusive power of the written word has been celebrated by this year’s shortlist as TV news presenter George Alagiah and Costa Award-winner Sally Gardner share Society of Authors' Awards shortlists with 'Banksy of Poetry' Brian Bilston and poet and activist Ani Kayode Somtochukwu.

The winners of the 2020 Authors’ Awards will be announced online on 18 June with a series of short films to celebrate this year’s winning and shortlisted authors. ALCS is pleased to sponsor these awards, which celebrate and inspire authors from all genres and ages, and is thrilled to be the main sponsor of the ALCS Tom-Gallon award, which helps support and encourage short story writers.

As part of the SoA @ Home festival, a series of free online events focused on the SoA Awards will run throughout June featuring shortlistees, judges (including Sarah Waters and Barney Norris), past winners, and a special in-conversation event on the afternoon of 18 June with Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell.

The Society of Authors’ Awards has rewarded the early works of some of today’s most prominent literary figures such as Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon and honoured the careers of established figures including Dylan Thomas, Fay Weldon, William Golding and Margaret Drabble.




Sponsored by ALCS, the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Judged by Stuart Evers and Michèle Roberts.

Ghillie’s Mum by Lynda Clark

High Water by Carol Farrelly

The Bird That Fluttered Free by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

Whale Watching by Diana Powell

Eva at the End of the World by Wendy Riley

The Pier at Ardentinny by Catriona Ward

ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award judge Stuart Evers says: ‘The broad and distinctive range of voices in this year’s ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award made for a spirited and passionate debate, and one that showed the dynamism and singularity of these stories.’

​Previous winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. Total prize fund: £1,575.



The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Zaffre, Bonnier Books)

The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape, Vintage)

Hitch by Kathryn Hind (Hamish Hamilton)

The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu (Dialogue Books)



Golden Child by Claire Adam (Faber and Faber)

Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston (Picador, Pan Macmillan)

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Wildfire, Headline)

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Viking, PRH)

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession (Bluemoose Books)

The Travelers by Regina Porter (Jonathan Cape, Vintage)



Umbrella written and illustrated by Elena Arevalo Melville (Scallywag Press)

Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Sea Dragon written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Nick Maland (Zephyr, Head of Zeus)

How to Light Your Dragon written by Didier Lévy, illustrated by Fred Benaglia (Thames & Hudson)

One Fox written and illustrated by Kate Read (Two Hoots)

Child of St Kilda written and illustrated by Beth Waters (Child’s Play)



The Burning Land by George Alagiah (Canongate Books)

Madeleine by Euan Cameron (MacLehose Press, Quercus Books)

Reparation by Gaby Koppel (Honno Press)

Find Me Falling by Fiona Vigo Marshall (Fairlight Books)

As the Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray (Saraband)

The Stranger She Knew by Rosalind Stopps (HQ, HarperCollins)

About the Society of Authors

The UK trade union for all types of writers, scriptwriters, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. They have more than 11,000 members and have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. In 2019, they awarded more than £600,000 in prizes and grants (for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translation), and also administer The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award and The ALCS Educational Writer’s Award.

Catriona Ward © Robert Hollingworth

Lynda Clark © Nigel King