William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2010: The Shortlist
Details of the six books to have been shortlisted for the prestigious award
The announcement of the shortlist for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2010 has been made. The books, listed alphabetically by author, are:
- Andre Agassi - Open
- Catrine Clay - Trautmann's Journey
- Duncan Hamilton - A Last English Summer
- Luke Jennings - Blood Knots
- Brian Moore - Beware of the Dog
- Matthew Syed - Bounce
I don't think there's too many of the longlisted books that haven't made it who can feel genuinely aggrieved (although I guess that's scant consolation to those authors). I'm slightly saddened that Simon Barnes, an author and journalist I really like, didn't make it through with A Book of Heroes, although to be fair, I don't think it's his strongest book of recent years and certainly not as enjoyable as The Meaning of Sport.
For me there's two stand out titles on that list - Bounce and A Last English Summer - and I think one of those two will be crowned winner. Last year I managed to correctly predict that Duncan Hamilton would claim the prize and if I'm going to stock my neck out this year, I think Bounce will take it.
I found it to be a remarkably fresh look at sport but as Michael Henderson's withering review in The Spectator showed, it won't be a book that appeals to everyone.
More generally, I'm pleased to see that coverage of the award seems to be increasing. The Guardian have run a blog post discussing the titles (complete with a comment contribution from yours truly singing the merits of Bounce and A Last English Summer) and Twitter has been busy with plenty of postings and opinion.
It's good that coverage is increasing - it's a fantastic award for sports writing - and whilst it's true that there's a reasonable amount of pap that gets attached to sports publishing, the same could be said of any genre of publishing. After all, the Booker prize isn't judged by comparing its shortlist against Anthea Turner's book so why should the best sports writing get judged against Wayne Rooney's musings?
One other comment on The Guardian thread that's worth highlighting concerns ghost written books and whether they have a place in a shortlist.
It's long been a source of debate as to whether the award should be rewarding great sports writing or great sports stories. The award does allow ghost written books and indeed a couple of past winners - Coming Back To Me and It's Not About The Bike - were ghost written.
But this year's award is the twenty-second year it's been held. A strike rate of two from the past twenty-one winners doesn't seem excessive to me and suggests that the judges have got the balance right.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 30th November. Details will appear here once the result is in. Further information on the shortlist can also be found on William Hill's site.
What are your thoughts on the shortlist?
Do you believe any of the other longlisted titles should have made it instead?
Let's have your opionions.