A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Graphic novel wins at the 2022 SoA awards

New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail has won the Betty Trask Prize at the 2022 Society of Authors’ Awards for IN: The Graphic Novel – the first time a graphic novel has been named a winner of the prize. The novel is an account of a young illustrator’s struggle to find connection, praised by judges as a ‘devastating vision of contemporary loneliness’.

The winners have been announced today (1 June 2022), with 32 writers, poets and illustrators at all stages of their careers sharing the UK’s biggest literary prize fund of more than £100,000.

Lemn Sissay, Joanne Harris and the celebrated judging panels will congratulate the winners later in a live ceremony taking place at Southwark Cathedral and online, and generously sponsored by ALCS.

Among this year’s winners are software developer turned children’s author Alastair Chisholm and illustrator David Roberts who won the Queen’s Knickers award with Inch and Grub, a ‘joyfully funny’ children’s book written in ‘caveman’.

Maame Blue picked up her second award in a row, following her triumph last year as a 2021 Betty Trask Award winner. This year she has been chosen as one of the 2022 Travelling Scholarship recipients, selected for her project of ‘shadowing Othello’ through exchanges with Ghanian writers in Italy.

Other winners include award-winning Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, who has been awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for contribution to poetry; debut novelist David Annand, who won the McKitterick prize for Peterdown; 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize-winner Kanya D’Almeida, who won the ALCS Tom-Gallon Award for I Cleaned The—; and previous shortlistee Sheila Llewellyn who is taking home the inaugural Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize for Winter in Tabriz.

Lemn Sissay reflected on themes of hope and connection ahead of the awards ceremony, saying: “Exit anger, enter kindness. Exit isolation, enter book shops. Exit fear, enter imagination. Exit loss, enter hope. Exit pandemic, enter the Society of Authors’ awards ceremony.”

Will McPhail, winner of the Betty Trask Prize 2022, said: “I cannot begin to describe how much this award means to me. I probably should be able to describe it, being an author and all, but if you’ve read my book then you’ll know that I do most of my describing through drawings of people looking all sad at each other. Being nominated alongside these wonderful authors was already a surreal dream and the fact that IN was picked as the first graphic novel to win this award is the honour of a lifetime. My only worry is that I’m now too happy to draw sad people.”

The ceremony can be watched online from 7.00pm on the Society of Authors’ livestream.

Donate to the Society of Authors’ Contingency Fund for authors by buying any of the shortlisted books from Bookshop.org.

Reproduce from SoA’s press release.

June 1, 2022