The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray Awarded Inaugural Nero Gold Prize Book of the Year

15/03/2024
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Hamish Hamilton), a gripping saga of one highly dysfunctional family that asks if a single moment of bad luck – a patch of ice on the road, a bee caught beneath a bridal veil – can change the direction of a life, has been awarded the inaugural Nero Gold Prize 2023 Book of the Year.  
 
At an awards ceremony held this evening (14th March) at HERE at Outernet, central London – hosted by broadcast journalist Sarah Montague – Chair of judges, Bernardine Evaristo presented Murray with the £30,000 prize.
 
Bernardine Evaristo, Chair of Judges said: “This is a wonderfully ambitious and entrancing novel about a family imploding against a background of Ireland's economic and social crisis of the late noughties. Suspenseful and linguistically astonishing, The Bee Sting is written with great wit and humanity, with a cast of complex characters who are held back by their past, mired in the present and longing for a different future. Paul Murray is a supremely gifted storyteller as we learn of unspoken secrets and desires in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations, in a rich, multi-layered novel that is both epic and intimate in scale. This is fiction of the finest calibre and we all unanimously agreed that The Bee Sting should win the Nero Gold Prize 2023 Book of the Year.”
 
Bernardine Evaristo chaired a final judging panel that included the veteran journalist James Naughtie, BBC News special correspondent and BBC Radio 4 Today presenter for more than two decades, and broadcaster Susie Dent, who is best known as the resident word expert on Channel 4’s Countdown and is the author of several books.
 
2023 marks the first year of the Nero Book Awards, celebrating outstanding books and writers from the UK and Ireland of the last 12 months across four categories: Children’s Fiction, Debut Fiction, Fiction and Non-Fiction. The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Fiction) beat Close to Home by Michael Magee (Debut Fiction), The Swifts by Beth Lincoln (Children’s Fiction), and Strong Female Character by Fern Brady (Non-Fiction) to win the overall prize of £30,000.
 
These Awards are part of Caffè Nero’s long-standing programme to sponsor and encourage the arts and culture in its coffee houses and communities where it operates. It has embraced many cultural and intellectual endeavours since its start in 1997, supporting exceptional writers, quality designers and excellent photography. Over the years, it has partnered with and supported art and design institutes such as The British Museum, The National Gallery, The Tate Modern, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery, The V&A, The Royal Academy of Arts and Central St Martins. Caffè Nero also runs its long-standing, dedicated music programme in the UK, which champions and promotes highly talented young musical artists, helping them get discovered and supporting them in their careers. Caffè Nero’s partners for these Awards are Right to Dream, Brunel University London and The Booksellers Association.
 
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray is funny and tragic in equal measure. It tells the story of a middle-class Irish family in crisis, as the effects of the post-2008 Irish banking crisis take their toll on the family finances. Taking five years to complete, inspiration for the book came in part from subsequent world events including Brexit and the pandemic, with Murray writing the 650-page novel during the latter. The Bee Sting has been nominated for a number of awards including a recent nomination for The Writer’s Prize 2024 and won the An Post Irish Book of the Year 2023. Since its publication, Murray has drawn comparisons to other influential writers including Jonathan Franzen.
 
Gerry Ford, Founder and Group CEO of Caffè Nero said: “I’m delighted that The Bee Sting has become the inaugural winner of the Nero Gold Prize Book of the Year. It’s an exceptional book which carries emotion, honesty and authenticity. To have such an impressive and well written book as the first winner of our Awards feels right. The Awards are designed to recognise great writers, great literature and a great read, and I think they have done exactly that. The support from the industry, writers and publishers for the Nero Book Awards has been fantastic. I congratulate Paul on winning in such a competitive and high-quality field.”
 
To be eligible for the 2023 Nero Book Awards, books must have been first published in English in the UK or Ireland between 1st December 2022 and 30th November 2023. At the time of entry, authors must have been alive and resident in the UK or Ireland for the past three years.
 
For full details, follow Nero Book Awards on Twitter and Instagram. For additional information, visit: nerobookawards.com.