This content contains affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through these links.

The Kitschies are a British award for “the most progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction of the year, which contains elements of the speculative or the fantastic”. They began in 2009 to “raise the tone of genre literature”. They have been sponsored by Blackwell’s Bookshop since 2017. Previous years winners include Circe by Madeline Miller, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd, and Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord.

The awards are given in five categories:

  • Red Tentacle for Best Novel (£ 1,000)
  • Golden Tentacle for Best Debut Novel (£ 500)
  • Inky Tentacle for Best Cover Art (£ 500)
  • Invisible tentacle for the best of native digital fiction
  • Glentacle, named in memory of Kitschie’s co-founder, Glen Mehn: “a discretionary award for an individual or group who, as the directors noted, has contributed something meaningful and special to the community”

This year there were 177 submissions to choose from. MR Carey, Red & Gold tentacle judge and author of The Girl With All the Gifts, said:

During these most stressful and troubling years, reading and judging for the kitschies has been a source of joy and inspiration for me. I was amazed at the breadth, ambition, and originality of the controversial novels, both by veteran writers and by newbies making their debut. As always, speculative fiction offers surprising, revealing and in the best sense revolutionary perspectives on the world. Our stories tell us who we are, and these storytellers do it with grace and conviction. It was a privilege to meet them all through their words.

Today in Books Newsletter

Sign up to Today In Books for daily news and all about the world of books.

Thanks for signing up! Keep an eye on your inbox.

By registering, you agree to our terms of use

Kitschies Award 2020 winner

The golden tentacle (debut novel)

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

This title was a huge hit at Book Rioters, featured in our best books of 2020, and was widely recommended by our bibliologists at TBR.

The Space Between Worlds explores multiverse travel that has become a surprisingly business proposition. Cara grew up in the wasteland and has just managed to make a living. In fact, almost all of their parallel selves did not survive to this point. This is good news for them, however, because humans can only travel in universes where their doppelganger is dead. This makes her a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, which means she can now live a comfortable life. Between all these different worlds, however, and between the wasteland and her new, walled-in life, Cara must figure out where she belongs. This is a compelling science fiction story with a black bisexual protagonist.


The red tentacle (novel)

Piranesi cover

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

The author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell also named this title Audiobook of the Year 2021 at Audies.

It is set in an alternate reality in which Piranesi lives in a maze of a house lined with thousands of unique statues. An ocean is trapped within the winding walls. Waves break on stairs and can flood rooms in no time at all. A man named The Other visits him twice a week to search for a great and secret knowledge. But there are more secrets hidden in this place than even Piranesi knows.


The ink tentacle (cover design)

The arrest of Jonathan Lethem cover

The arrest of Jonathan Lethem

This cover was designed by Allison Saltzman who also designed the covers of The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It was illustrated by Dexter Maurer.

Paul Wiseall, Inky Tentacle 2020 juror, said, “The quality of the book covers was amazing this year, which made shortlisting for Kitchies 2020 incredibly difficult. Aside from the hundreds of entries, we had to ditch some really nice book covers, but what we got is a stunning shortlist. The book covers that make up the Kitschies 2020 shortlist really showcase some of the most exciting, fun, and progressive artwork that should adorn any modern bookshelf. ”


Cover collage of the Kitchies runner-up

  • Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, cover design by Ben Summers
  • Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna, cover design by Andrew Davis
  • The Harpy by Megan Hunter, cover design by Lucy Scholes and illustration by Amy Judd
  • The City We Became by NK Jemisin, cover design by Lauren Panepinto

The Glentacle 2020 was awarded to Simon Key by the Big Green Bookshop for his “extraordinary generosity and selflessness towards the readers”.

Looking for more SFF winners? Check out the 2021 Nebula Awards winners!