Friday, May 17, 2024

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Longlist - Authors of Colour

When the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Longlist was announced there was some backlash, most noticeably about the "entirely white longlist" [The Guardian]. Since then there has been further clarification on the judging process and an invitation for underrepresented parts of society to get in touch:

"We are always interested to hear from potential members within the industries listed above to join the Awards Academy. We are particularly keen to hear from those who feel they would bring a different perspective to our existing Academy and who can help us achieve our aim of being truly representative of all sections of society – including those who may be underrepresented in the UK crime writing scene – this includes, but is not limited to, individuals of colour, those with disabilities, individuals from the LGBT+ communities or from working class backgrounds. Please contact for further information."

The following information on the judging process is excerpted from their FAQ (the underlining is mine):

Submissions for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year are open to all publishers, who are invited to submit up to three titles per imprint. Novels written by UK and Irish passport holders are eligible and titles must be published in paperback for the first time from 1 May 2023 to 30 April 2024.  There is no fee at point of entry. The longlist of 18 titles is selected by the Awards Academy.

The Awards Academy is made up of over 30 journalists, reviewers, booksellers, bloggers & podcasters and representatives from within the industry. It includes members from a number of minority communities. The Festival Programming Committee and representatives from all Awards sponsors and partners are also included in the Academy. From 2025, Awards Academy members will be offered a fee for their contribution on the Academy.

All titles are available digitally to all members of the Academy. The Awards Academy members are all avid readers of crime fiction, so we expect they will already have read a significant number of the books that are submitted for longlisting over the course of the previous year. The longlist provides a snapshot in time of the genre, and with the Academy being large and reflecting a range of tastes and viewpoints, we do not expect every member to have read every book that is submitted.

For the Crime Novel of the Year Award, the Awards Academy chooses a longlist of 18 titles from the titles submitted by the publishers. Each individual member of the Academy is asked to rank their top 18 books and the titles with the highest overall scores go though.

What's not mentioned is that though the Award is free to enter, I understand that there is a significant fee to pay should you be longlisted and again if shortlisted. I've also heard that there is a very short judging period.

Here are some authors of colour who might have been eligible for the 2024 Award. These books have been published in the UK in paperback, in the time-frame (May 23-Apr 24), however I do not know the authors' passport status!

Kia Abdullah - Those People Next Door (b. England) HQ
Amen Alonge - A Good Night to Kill (b. Nigeria) Quercus
A A Chaudhuri - The Final Party (b. England) Canelo Hera
Ajay Chowdhury - The Detective (b. India) Vintage
Louise Hare - Harlem After Midnight (b. England) HQ
Alex Khan - Until Death (b. England) Canelo Hera
Alex Khan - The Scorned (b. England) Canelo Hera
Vaseem Khan - Death of a Lesser God (b. England) Hodder Paperbacks
Sujata Massey - The Mistress of Bhatia House (b. England) Soho Crime
Christie J Newport - The Ordinary Man (b. England) Joffe Books
RV Raman - The Last Resort (b. India) Pushkin Vertigo
Nilanjana Roy - Black River (b. India) Pushkin Vertigo
Meeti Shroff-Shah - A Matrimonial Murder (b. India) Joffe Books
Sunny Singh - Hotel Arcadia (b. India) Magpie 

NB. A number of these authors are appearing at this year's Festival.

The 2024 Award submissions period is gone but is there anything to be done about 2025?  It appears that with this current system it all starts with the publishers:

If they don't publish authors of colour then they're not going to get on the longlist.
If they don't submit books by authors of colour then they're not going to get on the longlist. If the books are submitted but don't get sent to the Academy members during the preceding months then they're less likely to get on the longlist given the time constraints.

What can we readers do? Read and review the eligible books, blog about them, ask your library to buy them, tell the publishers how great they are so that when they come to choose their 3 titles per imprint they'll remember these books. Maybe apply to be an Academy member?

Here are some possible entries for the 2025 Award, using the same criteria as above:

A A Chaudhuri -  Under Her Roof (b. England) Canelo Hera
Ajay Chowdhury - The Spy (b. India) Vintage
Dorothy Koomson - Every Smile You Fake (b. England) Headline Review
Nadine Matheson - The Kill List (b. England) HQ
Dreda Say Mitchell & Ryan Carter - Girl, Missing (b. England) Thomas & Mercer
Abir Mukherjee - Hunted (b. England) Vintage
Harini Nagendra - A Nest of Vipers (b. India) Constable
Suk Pannu - Mrs Sidhu's Dead and Scone (b.?) Hemlock Press
Kuchenga Shenjé - The Library Thief (b.?) Sphere
Paula Sutton - The Potting Shed Murder (b. England) Renegade Books 
Tania Tay - The Other Woman (b?) Headline Accent
Nicola Williams - Until Proven Innocent (b. England) Penguin

My database though extensive is not comprehensive so please do leave comments about authors I may have missed, and of course any errors. 

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