A former police psychologist, a national newspaper columnist, an art historian and a retired midwife are amongst the longlisted authors for this year’s Arnold Bennett Book Prize.
The book prize, which was established in 2017 to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Arnold Bennett, attracted many entries including from a number of nationally-known authors.
This year’s prize is for books published during 2020 or 2021, after the usually annual prize took a one-year break due to the pandemic. The longlist of 10 books includes two anthologies of poetry, two detective novels, a memoir and a novella-in-flash.
A cheque for £500 will be presented to the writer of the winning entry at an Arnold Bennett Society ceremony on Saturday, May 28.
The chairman of the judging panel, freelance lecturer Morag Jones, said: “We are pleased with the number and quality of submissions once again this year. We have received such a wide variety of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Those who are longlisted are very worthy. Longlisting was a difficult process because of the quality of the submissions.”
Fellow judge and retired headteacher Elizabeth Leslie added: “We were impressed by the enthusiasm and energy of writers from North Staffordshire. We are fortunate that the spirit of Arnold Bennett lives on.”
The judges also include author and historian Fred Hughes, retired senior librarian Philip Lees, Arnold Bennett Society trustee Erika Alcock, journalist and Made in Stoke-on-Trent coordinator Jenny Amphlett plus Arnold Bennett Society members Penny Michell and Pat Marshall.
It is the fifth year the international book prize has been organised by the Arnold Bennett Society. Entry is open to writers based in Stoke-on-Trent, the wider North Staffordshire area or living anywhere in the world if their work features North Staffordshire.
Past winners include Guardian columnist Charlotte Higgins, who was born and raised in Newcastle-under-Lyme, novelist Jan Edwards, short story writer Lisa Blower and poet John Lancaster.
The longlisted books are:
Only About Love by Debbi Voisey
Where the Silent Screams are Loudest by John Pye
Greek Myths – A New Retelling by Charlotte Higgins
Freecycling for Beginners by Misha Herwin
Push! By Sylvia Baddeley
The Leading Question by Roger Elkin
Locations by Peter Cash
Arthur Berry – a Ragged Richness by Peter Davies
Hunt by Leona Deakin
Casanova's Guide to Medicine by Lisetta Lovett