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Blackwell’s Book of the Year shortlist

Here are the four books that made the cut


Academic, professional, and specialist bookseller Blackwell’s have announced the shortlist for its Book of the Year 2017.

Every year, Blackwell’s booksellers nominate and then vote for a book of the year from four categories: fiction, non-fiction, children and debut. With short-listed nominations receiving extra promotion in stores and online throughout the Christmas period.

Past winners have included Owen Jones’ The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, a non-fiction book that set out to expose a powerful network of people pulling the strings in Britain. As well as SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome in which Cambridge professor Mary Beard explores the story of the Ancient Romans and its significance in modern day.

This years nominations have all contributed something unique to the world of books, making it a very close call.

The Minsitry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is set across various regions in India and has a huge cast of complex characters. Such as an intersex person from Delhi and a doctor on a hunger strike against the government. These many characters allow Roy to explore life in India as well as the various cultural, political and religious issue that many Indians face.

The wide scope of the novel may be difficult for some readers to digest but its justification can be found within the book itself: “How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By becoming everything.”

The intricacy and detail in Roy’s book is exactly what many readers have loved most about it.  The Ministry of Utmost Happiness tells a story that ‘demands and rewards the reader’s concentration.’

Arundhati Roy is best known for her novel The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997 and has been translated into over forty languages since its publication. Her newest book written 20 years later is another great success, and has received an onslaught of critical acclaim. And unsurprisingly a nomination by Blackwell’s booksellers for fiction.

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

This years non-fiction contender comes from acclaimed journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, who is no stranger to award nominations. This daring and insightful novel has been in the running for both the Baille Gifford prize for non-fiction as well as The Books Are My Bag Award.

In 2014 Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog post explaining exactly why she no longer wanted to talk to white people about race, unless she absolutely had to. She told readers about her exhausting experience of constantly being shut down or undermined by people that remained unaffected by structural racism. And how that motivated her to steer away from such conversations wherever possible. The blog post then went viral ironically leading Eddo-Lodge to write a book furthering a much needed conversation about race and racism in Britain.

Chapters delve into white privilege, which Eddo-Lodge refers to as a ‘an absence of the consequence of race.’ As well as the exclusionary nature of ‘white femisnim’ and the impact of the intersectionality of class and race.

While some have been greatly offended by this book, with it being labelled by one Goodreads user as “racist propaganda material.” Many have felt either validated or enlightened by Eddo-Lodge’s work. Which has been referred to as “The most important book of 2017” by editor Nikesh Shukla.

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls – Elena Favelli and Francesca Cavello

The children’s nomination reinvents the fairytale, inviting readers to indulge in stories about athletes and activists instead of traditional princesses and fairies.

Initially funded by a kickstarter campaign, Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls is the creation of Elena Favelli and Francesca Cavello, the co-founders of a children’s media company. They felt compelled to do something about the lack of positive representation for young girls in the media. And thus created this book to help girls “be more confident and set bigger goals.”

The book shares short stories about 100 different powerful and inspirational women and girls from all over the world, told in the style of the classic fairytale. The range of women included is remarkably wide, pirates and politicians are accompanied by astronauts and artists. And historical figures like Elizabeth I are mentioned along with contemporary role models like Malala Yousafzai. Not every woman included is as highly revered as others though, and some readers have taken issue with the inclusion of controversial figures like Margaret Tahtcher.

A quote from each woman is included as well as captivating and colourful artwork depicting each of the 100 women, by 60 different female artists. This book is a physical manifestation of girl power that has earned its place on the shortlist.

This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor –  Adam Kay

Blackwell’s nomination for the debut category is a collection of stories by Adam Kay. This emotional book details Kay’s chaotic life as a junior doctor before he became a writer and comedian.

Junior doctors are required to keep a record of operations and things they’ve learned, which is exactly what Kay did. But he also decided to include other humorous as well as heartbreaking events. Although Kay had left medicine, after seeing widespread criticism of junior doctors he decided to give people a glimpse into the world he once belonged to by sharing what he documented.

Kay doesn’t hold back when it comes to revealing just how much physical and emotional strain that doctors are placed under. In addition to his numerous frustrations with the NHS. But the pages of his first novel are also filled with hilarious anecdotes and capture just how caring and selfless those in the medical profession can be.

This bestseller has won the Books are My Bag Non-Fiction and Readers’ Choice Awards, and could possibly be the winner of Blackwell’s Book of the Year as well.

An overall winner will be chosen out of these four brilliant nominees on the 8th of December.