The 2008 Longlist is announcedWednesday, April 02, 2008
THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2008 LONGLIST ANNOUNCED
- Male Writers Dominate New Prize for Sparkling New Fiction
- High Quality of first time writers also nominated for the Man Booker, Orange and Costa
- Strong childhood theme in longlist
The longlist for the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize, a new award for a first novel published in the UK, is announced today, 24 April 2008. Named in honour of literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott, one of the most charismatic and successful men in recent publishing history who died in August 2003, the Prize is designed to celebrate sparkling new fiction and is worth £10,000 to the winner.
Of the eleven novels on the longlist seven are written by men, some with backgrounds as intriguing as their novels; John Niven played in 80s indie band, The Wishing Stones, and Tom Rob Smith was screenwriter on Cambodia’s first soap opera.
Reflecting the overall high quality of writing on the list, Nikita Lalwani’s novel, Gifted, has already been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Glen Dimplex Fiction Award 2007; The Outcast by Sadie Jones has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction; Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann has been selected for the Richard & Judy 2008 Book Club; and Adam Foulds, author of The Truth About These Strange Times has recently won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2008.
In the spirit of Desmond Elliott, the judges are looking for a first novel which is intelligent with broad appeal; a novel which is a page turner, but which makes you pause for thought and a novel which has word of mouth appeal.
The Desmond Elliott Prize 2008 longlist is as follows:
- Broken by Daniel Clay (Harper Press)
- Submarine by Joe Dunthorne (Hamish Hamilton)
- The Truth About These Strange Times by Adam Foulds (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
- The Outcast by Sadie Jones (Chatto & Windus)
- Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)
- Kill Your Friends by John Niven (William Heinemann)
- Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips(Vintage)
- Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann (Doubleday)
- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)
- Sunday at The Cross Bones by John Walsh (Fourth Estate)
- The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi (Bloomsbury)
Penny Vincenzi, Chair of the Judges, comments, “This list of books, wide-ranging in both its scope and genre - tragedy, comedy and mystery are all there! - embodies the vibrant nature of new writing published in this country today. This is a list that truly sparkles - something, I am sure, Desmond Elliott would very much approve of.”
Vincenzi is joined on the judging panel by Tatler Editor, Geordie Greig and author and journalist Cristina Odone.
A shortlist of three books will be announced on 22 May. The winner of the 2008 inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize will be announced on 26 June at Fortnum & Mason, Desmond’s ‘local grocer’, in London.
Notes to editors
- The Judges of the Desmond Elliott Prize are available for interview. Please contact Colman Getty
- The longlisted authors may be available for interview. Please contact Colman Getty
- Images of the longlisted books, judges and the Prize logo are available from Colman Getty
- The Desmond Elliott Charitable Trust is a registered charity. It is chaired by Dallas Manderson, Group Sales Director of Orion Publishing Group. He is joined by Christine Berry, managing partner of Taylor Vinters, one of the leading commercial law firms in Cambridge, and Liz Thomson, Editor of Publishing News. Both Dallas and Christine worked with Desmond Elliott at Arlington Books
- The Desmond Elliott website includes information about the prize and the book with regular news updates - www.desmondelliottprize.com
For further information please contact
Hannah Blake or Mark Hutchinson
at Colman Getty
T: 020 7631 2666
The Desmond Elliott Prize 2008 Longlist
Broken by Daniel Clay (Harper Press)
Skunk Cunningham is an eleven-year-old girl in a coma. She has a loving dad, an absent mother and a brother who plays more Xbox than is good for him. She also has the neighbours from hell: the five Oswald girls and their dad Bob, vicious bullies all of them.
And yet, terrifying as they are, the stiletto-wearing, cider-swilling, Oswald girls are also sexy – so when Saskia asks shy, virginal Rick Buckley for a ride in his new car, he can’t believe his luck. Too bad that Saskia can’t keep her big mouth shut. When, after a disastrous fumble, she broadcasts Rick’s sexual deficiencies to anyone who will listen, it puts an idea into her younger sister’s head – an idea that will see Rick arrested, humiliated and ultimately, in his father’s words, ‘broken’ by the experience.
From her hospital bed, Skunk guides us through the events that follow, as Saskia’s small act of cruelty slowly spreads through the neighbourhood in a web of increasing violence. As we inch ever closer to the mystery behind her coma, Skunk’s innocence becomes a guiding light by which we navigate a world both comic and tragic.
Daniel Clay knew from the age of five he wanted to be a writer but by February 2007, he’d written close to a million unpublished words. His manuscript for Broken was finally discovered and he now has a two book deal with HarperCollins. He is 37 years old, married and lives in Hampshire.
“Bold, prescient, engaging, and oddly touching”. Guardian
Submarine by Joe Dunthorne (Hamish Hamilton)
'Hello, I’m Oliver Tate, the protagonist. I’m likely to use words like protagonist and, moments later, words like twonk. My ambitions are as follows: to find out why my father sometimes stays in bed for days at a time; to find out why my mother’s getting surfing lessons – and probably more – from a hippy-looking twonk; and to lose my virginity before it becomes legal – in just over a year. I am monitoring my parents’ intimacy via the dimmer switch in their bedroom. My parents have not had sex in two months which, my research suggests, points towards impending marital breakdown. There are other, lesser characters in the book: Jordana, who is my love interest, despite her eczema; Zoe, whose only real school friend is a dinner lady. I feel sorry for Zoe which, in turn, makes me feel better about my own life. Then there’s my friend Chips, an outstanding bully. This book might not change my life. But there is no telling how you will react.'
Joe Dunthorne is 25 and was born and brought up in Swansea. His poetry has been featured on Channel 4 and Radio 3 and he has performed at festivals including Hay-on-Wye and Latitude. Joe lives in London.
“This is a brilliant first novel, by a young man of ferocious comic talent - Oliver is the finest teenage narrator since Adrian Mole.” The Times
The Truth About These Strange Times by Adam Foulds (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Saul Dawson-Smith can memorise the sequence of a shuffled deck of cards in under a minute; he can recite pi to a thousand decimal places and he remembers every conversation he’s ever had. He is ten years old. Howard McNamee is twenty-eight: lonely, overweight and poorly educated. He lives alone in the north of England in the home he shared with his mother and far from the scene of his difficult Glasgow childhood. Through a series of unexpected events, these two solitary people find themselves forming an unlikely friendship. As Saul prepares himself for the World Memory Championships – the event he has been training for his whole life, the pressure mounts on the little boy, and his well-meaning but single-minded parents grow increasingly less able to see beyond their ambitions for their son, Howard realises he must act to save his small friend. The decision he reaches turns all their lives upside down.
Adam Foulds was born in 1974 and lives in South London. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia and his poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazines. Adam has recently won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.
"There is much to admire in this debut, from the assured descriptions to the well-judged blend of comedy and drama.” The Times
The Outcast by Sadie Jones (Chatto & Windus)
England, 1957. Lewis Aldridge, nineteen, is travelling back to his home in Surrey. He is straight out of jail and his return will trigger the implosion not just of his family but of a whole community. A decade earlier, his father’s homecoming casts a different shape: the war is over and Gilbert has recently been demobbed. He reverts easily to suburban life – cocktails at six-thirty, church on Sundays – but his wife and young son resist the stuffy routine. Lewis and his mother escape to the woods for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert’s wife counters convention but they are all shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her.
Not far away, Kit Carmichael keeps watch. She has always understood more than most, not least from what she has been dealt by her own father’s hand. Lewis’s grief and burgeoning rage are all too plain, and Kit makes a private vow to help. But in her attempts to set them both free, she fails to predict the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open.
Sadie Jones was born in London. Her father is the Jamaican poet and screenwriter Evan Jones, and her mother was an actress. Sadie is married with two children and has just been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2008.
“An assured voice, a riveting story, and an odd, wrenchingly sympathetic protagonist. I would never have imagined this was a first novel.” Lionel Shriver
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)
Numbers have filled Rumika Vasi’s world since she first learned to count. But it was on a trip to India at the age of eight that her mathematical powers acquired their almost supernatural significance. When she returned home to Cardiff her destiny was sealed: she was now, and would forever be, the town’s ‘maths prodigy’.
At fourteen Rumi is firmly set on the path of a gifted child, speeding headlong towards Oxford University. As her father sees it, discipline is everything if the family has any hope of making its mark on its adopted country. However, as she grows older and the family’s stark isolation intensifies, numbers start to lose their magic for the young teenager: she abandons the rigid timetable of her afternoons to seek out friendship and replaces equations with rampant spice abuse. As her longing for love and her parents’ will to succeed deepen, so too does the rift between generations.
Nikita Lalwani was born in Kota, Rajasthan in 1973 and raised in Cardiff. Gifted is her first novel and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Glen Dimplex Fiction Award 2007. She lives in London.
“Superb, brilliantly realised . . . especially memorable for its sensuous power…
The searing narrative is unflinchingly and tenderly written.” The Independent
Kill Your Friends by John Niven (William Heinemann)
Meet Steven Stelfox in London 1997, where New Labour is sweeping into power and Britpop is at its zenith. Twenty-seven-year-old A&R man Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through the music industry, a world where ‘no one knows anything’ and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public.
Fuelled by greed and inhuman quantities of cocaine, Stelfox blithely criss-crosses the globe (‘New York, Cologne, Texas, Miami, Cannes: you shout at waiters and sign credit card slips and all that really changes is the quality of the porn’), searching for the next hit record amid a relentless orgy of self-gratification. But as the hits dry up and the industry begins to change, Stelfox must take the notion of cutthroat business practices to murderous new levels in a desperate attempt to salvage his career.
John Niven was born in Scotland and played guitar for 1980s indie band The Wishing Stones before reading English Literature at Glasgow University.
“Brilliant. It made me ill with laughter. The filthiest, blackest, most shocking, most hilarious debut novel I've read in years.” India Knight
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (Vintage)
Being immortal isn't all it's cracked up to be. Life's hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn't respect you, and you're stuck in a dilapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there's no way out...Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.
Marie Phillips was born in London in 1976. She studied anthropology and documentary making, and worked as a TV researcher for several years. More recently she has worked as an independent bookseller whilst writing Gods Behaving Badly.
“In the case of Marie Phillips, it is deserving of the hype...she
has done a spectacular job- funny and unpretentious, witty and readable.
Gods Behaving Badly lives up to its potential.” The Observer
Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann (Doubleday)
1992: Leo Deakin wakes up in a hospital somewhere in South America. His girlfriend Eleni is dead and Leo doesn’t know where he is or how she died. He blames himself for the tragedy and is sucked into a spiral of despair. But Leo is about to discover something that will change his life for ever.
1917: Moritz Daniecki is a fugitive from a Siberian POW camp. Seven thousand kilometres separate him from his village and his sweetheart, whose memory has kept him alive through carnage and captivity. The Great War may be over, but Moritz now faces a perilous journey over a continent riven by civil war. When he finally limps back into his village to claim the hand of the woman he left behind, will she still be waiting?
Danny Scheinmann was born in Manchester and is a writer, actor and storyteller. Random Acts of Heroic Love has been selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2008. He lives in London with his wife and three children.
“This really is as special as its press suggests...beautifully told...an amazingly assured debut.” Sunday Express
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)
The Soviet Union, 1953. Stalin’s iron grip is at its tightest, enforced by the Ministry of State Security – a secret police force whose brutality is no secret at all. Under its regime, people are commanded to believe that crime simply does not exist.
But when the body of a young boy is discovered on train tracks in Moscow, Officer Leo Demidov – a war hero utterly dedicated to the Ministry – is surprised to hear that the boy’s family is convinced it was murder. Leo’s superiors order him to ignore this and he is obliged to obey. But something in him knows there is more.
Disgraced, exiled to a remote town in the Ural mountains, Leo realises that the crime he helped cover up in the capital has happened here too: the murder of another child. Risking everything, Leo pursues a horrifying killer – even if doing so makes him an enemy of the State.
Tom Rob Smith was born in 1979 to a Swedish mother and an English father and was brought up in London where he still lives. He graduated from Cambridge in 2001 and spent a year in Italy on a creative writing scholarship. Tom has worked as a screenwriter for the past five years on Cambodia’s first ever soap opera.
"An amazing debut - rich, different, fully-formed, mature ... and thrilling." Lee Child
Sunday at The Cross Bones by John Walsh (Fourth Estate)
It's 1930, and the streets of London are teeming with homeless, money-grubbing men and women washed up in the wake of the General Strike. The bars and cafes are full of seedy chancers and girls who will forget their mothers' warnings for the price of a mutton-chop supper.
Through this moral wasteland strides Harold Davidson, clergyman, prototypical social worker, impulsive saver of souls. No London park, no Holborn public house or Drury Lane brothel is a stranger to his mission: to find girls who have strayed, or are about to stray, down the primrose path to Hell, and pull them back by any means at his disposal. Meanwhile, in the little parish of Stiffkey on the Norfolk coast, his Irish wife Moyra is trying to feed her family and stop the local Major from wrecking her husband’s reputation. Her letters to a Dublin confidante reveal the extraordinary journey that has brought her marriage to its present dire state.
When Harold meets Barbara Harris, a sixteen-year-old prostitute who confounds his ethical certainties, it's the start of a chain of events that will pitch all their lives into disarray and lead inexorably to a sensational trial and a notorious defrocking...
John Walsh is the author of The Falling Angels: An Irish Romance and Are you Talking to Me? A Life Through the Movies. He is Assistant Editor of The Independent and lives in London.
'A voluble, stylish, moving gem...comic, sympathetic, deeply affecting...It's an enthralling circus of a book.' Sunday Telegraph
The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi (Bloomsbury)
Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched and untroubled by the modern world. When the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police – governed more by archaic rules of honour than by the law – are quick to close the case, dismissing the death as an accident. Then a stranger arrives, uninvited from Athens, announcing his intention to look into the crime he believes has been committed.
The stranger’s methods of investigation are unorthodox, and his message to the islanders is plain: tell the truth or face the consequences. Before long, he’s uncovering a tale of passion, corruption and murder. But the stranger brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies. Who has sent him to Thiminos, and on whose authority is he acting? And how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?
Anne Zouroudi was brought up in the north of England and has lived in the Greek islands. She now lives in the Derbyshire Peak District with her son.
“Atmospheric and compelling.” Joanna Briscoe
About the Judges
Penny Vincenzi (Chair) is the best-selling author of many novels, including No Angel, Something Dangerous, and Into Temptation. Before becoming a novelist, she worked as a journalist for Vogue, Tatler, and Cosmopolitan. As a contributing editor to Cosmopolitan Penny asked Jilly Cooper for advice on writing a novel whilst interviewing her for a magazine profile. Jilly put her in touch with her own agent, Desmond Elliott, who auctioned a synopsis of her first novel (then still unwritten). It was bought for £100,000. Bestseller followed bestseller and after fifteen years as a novelist, Penny is undoubtedly one of the UK's most popular writers. She is married with four daughters and four grandchildren and lives in London.
Geordie Greig is the editor of Tatler magazine. He attended Eton College and St Peter's College, Oxford. Geordie worked for the South East London and Deptford Mercury newspaper, the Daily Mail and Sunday Today, before joining the Sunday Times in 1987. He became the editor of Tatler in 1999. Geordie is also known as a social commentator and discerner of trends in London society. He lives with his wife and three children in London.
Cristina Odone writes a column for The Observer and The Daily Telegraph. She broadcasts widely, on radio and television, and is a former Deputy Editor of The New Statesman. Between 1990 and 1994 she edited The Catholic Herald. She has written two novels, The Shrine and The Perfect Wife. Born of an Italian father and a Swedish mother, Cristina has lived in Rome, Washington DC and Oxford. Her new novel The Dilemmas of Harriet Carew is published by Harper Collins. She lives in west London with her husband and daughter.
About Desmond Elliott
Desmond Elliott’s life reads like a page-turning rags to riches story. From humble beginnings in an Irish orphanage he came to England in 1947, at the age of 16 with just £2 in his pocket, to start his publishing career at Macmillan. After a colourful career in-house, Desmond set up as an agent and subsequently went on to set up his own publishing company, Arlington Books, in 1960.
This dedication, coupled with creative business sense, was key to the creation of a list of hugely successful blockbuster novelists; Jilly Cooper, Leslie Thomas and Penny Vincenzi, to name but a few. Respected and loved by his authors, in the words of Candida Lycett Green, Desmond was simply “magic”.
Charismatic, witty, and waspish, Elliott lived his life with verve. He drank only champagne, always crossed the Atlantic on Concorde and used Fortnum & Mason as his local shop. His office was in Mayfair and he had homes in London’s St. James’s and New York’s Park Avenue. Desmond Elliott died in August 2003 at the age of 73.
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