Adult Fiction Cover Award

The Night Manager by John le Carré

‘A marvellously observed relentless tale’ Observer

At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities – about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings – backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.

In a chilling tale of corrupt intelligence agencies, billion-dollar price tags and the truth of the brutal arms trade, John le Carré creates a claustrophobic world in which no one can be trusted.

‘He can communicate emotion, from sweating fear to despairing love, with terse and compassionate conviction’ Sunday Times (on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold)

The Brief

John le Carré has sold millions of books and many have been turned into films and TV dramas starring the great and the good and with huge audiences. Described as the greatest chronicler of the age, le Carré writes books that are thrilling reads and are brilliantly acute about human weakness – pointing out the motivations of those in power, undermining the moral superiority of governments.  His novels are always rich in character and wit, he skewers pomposity and questions any ideas of fixed hierarchies, like good vs bad, communism vs capitalism, etc. He is most famous for writing about the Cold War but has also addressed the War on Terror, Russian money in the City of London, Big Pharma, and the arms trade. His novels have been set all over the world – Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Britain.

John le Carré is not a crime writer in the classic sense of the word, and The Night Manager is not your usual spy book, so try to avoid the usual spy and crime clichés that characterize so many books in this genre. We are looking for a clever, fresh, contemporary and above all original design that appeals to a broad, modern audience.

The Night Manager was made into a BBC TV series, with Jonathan Pine played by Tom Hiddleston, but beware that the series did change some of the characters, so try to get your hands on a copy of the book to get a flavour of le Carré’s writing and some of the themes central to the book.

Your cover design needs to include all the cover copy as supplied and be designed to the specified design template (B format, 198mm high x 129mm wide, spine 21mm wide). Please refer to the Submissions Details page for full details of the spec and how to submit your entry.

Copyright must be cleared for all images used in your cover design and you must include a credit line on the back cover of your design for any third party images used. For example: ‘Cover photograph by Joe Bloggs’.

What the judges are looking for:

We are looking for a striking cover design that is well executed, has an imaginative concept and clearly places the book for its market. While all elements of the cover (front, back and spine) need to work together, remember that the front cover has to be able to work on its own, and to be eye-catching within a crowded bookshop setting as well as on screen at a reduced size for digital retailers.

The winning design will need to:

  • have an imaginative concept
  • be an original interpretation of the brief
  • be competently executed with strong use of typography
  • appeal to the broadest possible audience for the book
  • show a good understanding of the marketplace
  • have a point of difference from other books that it will be competing against in the market
  • be able to sit on the shelves of a supermarket or ebook store as easily as it sits on those of more traditional bookshops 

The Prizes

1st Prize

The winner of each category will be invited to spend four weeks in the Penguin Random House Design Studios on a work placement*, working on live briefs. The work placement will be paid at the current London Living Wage rate (subject to any applicable taxation) and the winner will also receive a cash prize of £1,000.

*Subject to agreeing terms in advance. Entrants must be eligible to work in the UK.

2nd Prize

The winner of the 2nd Prize will receive a £500 cash prize.

3rd Prize

The winner of the 3rd Prize will receive a £350 cash prize.

All the shortlisted entrants will be invited to an award ceremony where the winners will be announced, and at which an exhibition of all the shortlisted designs will be on display.

The Judges

Penguin Random House Judges

Joanna Prior

Joanna Prior – Managing Director, Penguin General Books

Joanna has had a guiding hand on Penguin’s design for many years. In her role as Marketing and Publicity Director of Penguin UK (until July 2009) she helped to position Penguin’s books for the marketplace through their cover design and stand-out marketing campaigns. She was instrumental in setting up the Penguin Design Award in 2007 as a legacy of the company’s 70th Anniversary.  She is also responsible for the comprehensive collection of text-based art that adorns the meeting rooms and corridors of Penguin’s offices at 80 Strand. In her current role as Managing Director of Penguin General Books she is responsible for publishing prize winners and bestsellers, including Michelle Obama, Ali Smith, Arundhati Roy, John le Carré, Zadie Smith, Ben Macintyre, Philippa Perry and Dolly Alderton.

Richard Bravery

Richard Bravery – Art Director, Penguin General Books and Michael Joseph

Richard studied Illustration at Falmouth and has an MA in Typography from London College of Printing. After graduating Richard worked in a variety of creative industries including Furniture Design, before embarking on a career in Cover Design firstly at 4th Estate and then with Penguin, where he has worked since 2007. As a Designer for Penguin General, he works on a wide-ranging list of authors including Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, John le Carré and Alain De Botton

Jim Stoddart

Jim Stoddart – Art Director, Penguin Press

After graduating in Sheffield, Jim took a placement at Bill Smith Studio in London, which turned into a job designing record and CD covers for such labels as EMI, Virgin, BMG, Mute and Trojan Records. Five years later he joined Penguin, where he worked as a cover designer for eighteen months, and then he went to work with Chris Ashworth under Lewis Blackwell at Getty Images for twelve months. In 2001 he returned to Penguin as Art Director of Penguin Press, where he has overseen the redesign and rebranding of Penguin Classics, Penguin Modern Classics and Pelican Books, as well as designing and art-directing covers for Penguin’s Allen Lane hardback imprint, the Particular Books imprint and Penguin non-fiction paperbacks.

Guest Judges

To be announced.

Published covers

  • The Night Manager

    Penguin Modern Classics

  • In The Night Manager, John le Carré's first post-Cold War novel, an ex-soldier helps British Intelligence penetrate the secret world of ruthless arms dealers.

    'Le Carré is the equal of any novelist now writing in English' Guardian

    'A marvellously observed relentless tale' Observer

    At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities - about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings - backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.

    In a chilling tale of corrupt intelligence agencies, billion-dollar price tags and the truth of the brutal arms trade, John le Carré creates a claustrophobic world in which no one can be trusted.

    'Complex and intense ... page-turning tension' San Francisco Chronicle

    'When I was under house arrest I was helped by the books of John le Carré ... they were a journey into the wider world ... These were the journeys that made me feel that I was not really cut off from the rest of humankind' Aung San Suu Kyi

    'One of those writers who will be read a century from now' Robert Harris

    'He can communicate emotion, from sweating fear to despairing love, with terse and compassionate conviction' Sunday Times (on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold)

    'Return of the master . . . Having plumbed the devious depths of the Cold War, le Carré has done it again for our nasty new age' The Times (on Our Kind of Traitor)

  • Find out more about the book

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