Fern Brady wins Nero Book Awards prize

Tuesday 30th January 2024, 12:00am

  • Strong Female Character by Fern Brady has won in the Non-Fiction category in the Nero Book Awards
  • The judges noted the memoir is "a savagely funny, beautifully written and fearlessly honest book that is as inspiring as it is hilarious"
  • Brady is now in the running for Caffè Nero's Book Of The Year title, which comes with a £30,000 prize
Fern Brady. Copyright: James Robertson

Fern Brady's book Strong Female Character is the Non-Fiction category winner in the inaugural Nero Book Awards.

Run by Caffè Nero in partnership with Right to Dream, Brunel University London and The Booksellers Association, the new awards aim to "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".

Published in February last year, Strong Female Character is described as a "raw and sometimes outrageous memoir" in which the Scottish comedian "looks back on a life shaped by the neurodiversity that went undetected by teachers and medical professionals alike, from the family holidays she ruined to her early sexual promiscuity, from the obsessive, self-inflicted grammar drills that won her a place to study languages at Edinburgh University, to working as a stripper to pay her way through her degree."

The competition says: "Now a hugely successful stand-up comedian, Brady's path to success has been anything but smooth. Unafraid to reveal the darker parts of herself most of us prefer to keep hidden, Brady's self-awareness and candour regarding her struggles with poor mental health, addiction, poverty and homelessness are as moving to read as they are shocking. Taking her own experiences as a starting point, Strong Female Character offers a clear-eyed analysis of why women, especially those from working-class backgrounds, are so routinely failed. But Brady's dry and dark humour suffuses every page resulting in a memoir as hilarious as it is heart-breaking."

The judges noted the entry was "a savagely funny, beautifully written and fearlessly honest book that is as inspiring as it is hilarious".

The winners were chosen by 12 judges, a mix of authors, booksellers and journalists, who selected the best books of the last twelve months created by writers based in the UK and Ireland. The other winners were The Swifts by Beth Lincoln in Children's Fiction, Close to Home by Michael Magee in Debut Fiction, and The Bee Sting by Paul Murray in Fiction.

Each category winner receives £5,000. One book will now be selected as the overall winner and recipient of The Nero Gold Prize Book Of The Year title, to be announced at a ceremony in London on Thursday 14th March. A final judging panel led by award-winning author Bernardine Evaristo will select the overall winner, who will receive an additional £30,000.

Gerry Ford, founder and CEO of Caffè Nero, says: "The Nero Book Awards are a hugely important part of our programme to sponsor the arts and support creative excellence. The four winning books represent the very best writing from the UK and Ireland and we are proud at Caffè Nero to create a platform that celebrates home-grown talent, and to offer a total prize pot of £50,000. Our judges have selected four brilliant books that will appeal to readers of all tastes. My congratulations to the winning authors, and thank you to our judges, partners and the wider publishing industry for engaging with these awards so enthusiastically in our first year. It is our goal that these awards come to represent a badge of exceptional quality which is seen as aspirational for authors and within the industry and a trustworthy recommendation for readers."

More details about the awards can be found via nerobookawards.com

Fern Brady - Strong Female Character

By Fern Brady

"This is a book about how being a woman gets in the way of people's expectation of what autism should look like and, equally, how being autistic gets in the way of people's expectations of what a woman should look like."

Strong Female Character is a game-changing memoir on sexism and neurodiversity. Fern Brady uses her voice as a neuro-divergent, working-class woman from Scotland to bring issues such as sex work, abusive relationships and her time spent in teenage mental health units to the page. It takes a sledgehammer to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope which is mistakenly applied to neuro-diverse women and looks at how her lack of regard for social expectations ultimately meant she surpassed any limitations of what a Scottish working-class woman can do.

First published: Thursday 16th February 2023

  • Publisher: Brazen
  • Download: 3.32mb

Not in the UK?

Fear not! Many items can still be ordered. Amazon in the UK delivers to many international territories, whilst their Australia, USA and Canada stores also supply many equivalent or imported items.

If you are in the North America, look out for US/Canadian flag icons on popular product listings for direct links.

If you order from a UK store, please note that the UK is in Region 2 and B, respectively, for DVDs and Blu-rays - check your player's compatibility, or look for multi-region products if you are located in another region.

If you are in Australia or New Zealand (DVD Region 4), note that almost all DVDs distributed in the UK by the BBC and 2entertain are encoded for both Region 2 and Region 4. The UK and Australasia are in the same Blu-ray region (B).

Share this page