The judges said:
Sunburn is a vivid, fleshly portrait of teenage devotion, and the casualties that ripple out when identity is denied.
The Category winners will be announced on 16th January 2024 and, of those, one book will be selected as the overall winner – The Nero Gold Prize – by a final panel of judges in February 2024.
Launched in May 2023, the Nero Book Awards are part of Caffè Nero’s programme to sponsor the arts. Caffè Nero is an independent, family-owned business. It has embraced many cultural and intellectual endeavours since its start in 1997, supporting outstanding new singer-songwriters, exceptional writers, quality designers and excellent photography. The Nero Book Awards are run in partnership with Right to Dream, Brunel University London and The Booksellers Association. A not-for-profit organisation, the Awards celebrate the craft of great writing and the joy of reading, providing readers of all tastes with a combination of high-quality writing and readability.
Gerry Ford, Founder and CEO of Caffè Nero commented: ‘The Nero Book Awards are important to Caffè Nero and to me because of our interest in bringing the arts, cultural programmes and intellectual pursuits to our coffee houses. The response from publishers and authors to these Awards has been tremendous, and I’m excited by the quality books that the judges have shortlisted. We hope readers of all tastes will enjoy these books and recommend them to others.’
Amanda Johnson, Awards Director, adds: ‘The announcement of our shortlist is such an exciting milestone for the Nero Book Awards. We have here an incredible range of books that will speak to a variety of different audiences, from books based on true stories to fantasies to explorations of self, place and landscape. Huge congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and their publishers. We hope that everyone will find a new favourite book on this list.;
Sunburn is an astute and tender portrayal of first love, adolescent anxiety and the realities of growing up in a small town where tradition holds people tightly in its grasp.
It’s the early 1990s, and in the Irish village of Crossmore, Lucy feels out of place. Despite her fierce friendships, she’s always felt this way, and the conventional path of marriage and motherhood doesn’t appeal to her at all. Not even with handsome and doting Martin, her closest childhood friend.
Lucy begins to make sense of herself during a long hot summer, when a spark with her school friend Susannah escalates to an all-consuming infatuation, and, very quickly, to a desperate and devastating love.
Fearful of rejection from her small and conservative community, Lucy begins living a double life, hiding the most honest parts of herself in stolen moments with Susannah.
But with the end of school and the opportunity to leave Crossmore looming, Lucy must choose between two places, two people and two futures, each as terrifying as the other. But only one can offer her real happiness.
Sunburn is published by Verve Books.