2012 Shortlist announcedThursday, May 24, 2012
The Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist of three first novels is announced today, Thursday 24 May 2012. The Prize celebrates the very best of debut fiction by the rising stars of the literary world.
The shortlist for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2012 is as follows:
- The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (Chatto & Windus)
- The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness (Seren)
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
This year’s shortlist has been selected from a longlist of ten, announced in April. The three shortlisted authors are: poet and academic Patrick McGuinness, whose novel The Last Hundred Days was inspired by his years in Bucharest in the lead up to the Romanian revolution; award-winning radio playwright Rachel Joyce, whose book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was originally drafted as a radio play for her dying father, and Grace McCleen with The Land Of Decoration, a story based on the author’s own upbringing in a Christian fundamentalist sect in Wales.
The judges were struck by the strong characters and coruscating language of Patrick McGuinness’ dystopian novel about the last days of the Ceauscescu dictatorship in Romania, Rachel Joyce’s beautiful storytelling, with its insights into human nature through the tale of an ordinary person motivated to perform extraordinary actions, and the original language and ideas in Grace McCleen’s vivid and life-affirming story of a young girl in a Christian sect who believes the Last Days have come.
Sam Llewellyn, 2012 Chair of Judges and one of Desmond Elliott’s own protégés, commented:
‘It has been extraordinarily hard to choose a shortlist of three from such a powerful and diverse longlist. Desmond Elliott once told me that his ideal novel was a cross between a treasure hunt and a race. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is both these things, and a lot more besides. The Last Hundred Days, written with wit and irony, is a really fine and original addition to the literature of disintegrating empires, and The Land of Decoration is unlike anything you’ve ever read. It’s a rollercoaster of a book that makes the reader laugh and cry at entirely unpredictable intervals.’
Sam Llewellyn is joined on the judging panel by Tom Gatti, Editor of The Times Review section, and Caroline Mileham, Head of Books at Play.com.
William Hill spokesman, Graham Sharpe, commented that ‘despite having dramatically varying themes, it is very difficult to differentiate between three brilliant debut novels’, but gave Rachel Joyce a narrow lead with the following odds:
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce - 5/4
- The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness - 7/4
- The Land Of Decoration by Grace McCleen - 2/1
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the £10,000 award for a first novel published in the UK, set up in memory of the celebrated publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott to ‘enrich the careers of new writers’.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 28 June at Fortnum & Mason, London. When choosing a winner, the judges will be looking for a novel of depth and breadth with a compelling narrative. The work should be vividly written and confidently realised and should contain original and arresting characters.
The 2011 winner was Anjali Joseph for Saraswati Park, published by Fourth Estate. Previous winners of the Prize were: The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw (Atlantic Books, 2010); Blackmoor by Edward Hogan (Simon & Schuster, 2009) and Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Penguin Books, 2008).
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Notes to editors
- The Judges of the Desmond Elliott Prize are available for interview. Please contact Four Colman Getty
- The shortlisted authors may be available for interview. Please contact Four Colman Getty
- Images of the shortlisted books, shortlisted authors, judges and the Prize logo are available from Four Colman Getty
- The ten novels longlisted for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2012 were:
o Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic Books)
o Bed by David Whitehouse (Canongate Books)
o Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson (Doubleday)
o The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (Simon & Schuster)
o Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles (Harper Press)
o The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (Chatto & Windus)
o The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness (Seren)
o The Missing Shade of Blue by Jennie Erdal (Little, Brown)
o The Spider King's Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo (Faber & Faber)
o The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
- The Desmond Elliott Prize page can be found on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/TheDesmondElliottPrize and on Twitter @Desmond_Elliott / #DesmondElliott
- The Desmond Elliott Charitable Trust is a registered charity. It is chaired by Dallas Manderson, Group Sales Director of the Orion Publishing Group. He is joined by Christine Berry, a partner in the charities group at Taylor Vinters, a Cambridge-based law firm, and Liz Thomson, Editor of BookBrunch. Both Dallas and Christine worked with Desmond Elliott at Arlington Books
- The Desmond Elliot Prize is administered by Emma Manderson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- For updates and news, please see www.desmondelliottprize.org
For further information please contact
Katy MacMillan-Scott or Liz Sich at Four Colman Getty
Direct lines: 020 3023 9076 (Katy) / 020 3023 9040 (Liz)
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