Women Dominate Debut Novel Prize
Longlist For The Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 Announced
Thursday, April 25, 2013
The Desmond Elliott Prize, which celebrates and champions the very best in debut fiction, is this year dominated by female talent, leaving space for just three male writers on the longlist of ten. It indeed seems to be a trend: in the five years since its inception, the Prize, one of the most prestigious awards for debut novelists from the UK and Ireland, has three times been carried off by a woman.
The ten new writers vying for a place on the shortlist are a multitalented group, and include a punk-gothic singer, three journalists, three poets, and a former junior champion chess player. Ireland is represented by two of the three longlisted men - Kevin Maher and Kevin Smith while Jenni Fagan, who was recently named as one of Granta Magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists, flies the flag for Scotland.
This expansive list ranges widely over time and space, starting in Elizabeth I’s England (The Marlowe Papers) and moving on to Queen Victoria’s (The Painted Bridge and The Palace of Curiosities), before slipping over to early 20th Century Paris (Petite Mort), then swinging by 1980s Dublin and Belfast (The Fields and Jammy Dodger) as well as the rural Suffolk of Seldom Seen, before engaging with Edinburgh now in The Panopticon. Finally our literary trajectory turns south again, back through the English village landscape of The Universe Verses Alex Woods and metropolitan London (Signs of Life), to arrive in the actual, no less dramatic, present.
Chair of judges and best-selling author, Joanne Harris said: ‘The Desmond Elliott Prize is a landmark moment in an author’s career. It is enormously heartening that as well as it being a wonderful time for debut fiction, it’s also an exciting time for female writers.’
Jonathan Ruppin, Web Editor of Foyles Bookshop commented: ‘Introducing readers to new talent is an integral part of our role as booksellers. The Desmond Elliott Prize has proved consistent in spotting excellence; all previous winners have gone on to write well-received, wonderful books and this year's longlist promises just as much potential.’
Now in its sixth year, the £10,000 Prize is presented in the name of the acclaimed publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, whose passion for finding and nurturing new authors is perpetuated by the Prize. The award has an outstanding record in spotting up-and-coming novelists and aims specifically, practically to help advance their burgeoning careers.
The shortlist of The Desmond Elliott Prize will be announced on 23 May, with the overall winner being revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 27 June.
The Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 longlist in full (in alphabetical order by author):
· The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (Sceptre)
· The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Hodder & Stoughton)
· The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (William Heinemann)
· The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland (Harper Fiction)
· Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (Serpent’s Tail)
· The Fields by Kevin Maher (Little, Brown)
· Signs of Life by Anna Raverat (Picador)
· Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard (Hutchinson)
· Jammy Dodger by Kevin Smith (Sandstone Press)
· The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace (Simon & Schuster)
Previous winners of The Desmond Elliott Prize have gone on to garner critical acclaim and to be shortlisted and win further awards including: Anjali Joseph (Saraswati Park, 2011) who won the Betty Trask Prize in 2011 and was named by the Daily Telegraph as one of their top 20 authors under 40; Ali Shaw (The Girl With Glass Feet, 2010) who was shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award; Edward Hogan (Blackmoor, 2009) who went on to be shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award; and Nikita Lalwani (Gifted, 2008) who was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for both the Costa First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.
For further information and to request interviews and images, please contact Maura Brickell on 020 3174 0118 or email@example.com
- ENDS -
Notes to Editors
1. The Desmond Elliott Prize is an annual award for a first novel written in English and published in the UK. Worth £10,000 to the winner, the prize is named after the literary agent and publisher, Desmond Elliott. When choosing the winner, a panel of three judges will look for a novel which has a compelling narrative, arresting characters, and which is both vividly written and confidently realised.
2. Desmond Elliott’s own story began in an Irish orphanage. In 1947, aged 16 and with just two pounds in his pocket, he left for England, to start his publishing career at Macmillan. Thereafter he set up as an agent and subsequently went on to establish his own publishing company, Arlington Books, in 1960. The charismatic, witty and waspish Elliott - who drank only champagne, flew regularly on Concorde and used Fortnum & Mason as his local grocer – nurtured numerous blockbuster authors, including Jilly Cooper, Anthony Horowitz and Penny Vincenzi. He died in August 2003 at the age of 73.
3. 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 Liz Thomson, Editor of BookBrunch,and Christine Berry, a partner in the charities group at Taylor Vinters. Both Dallas and Christine worked with Desmond Elliott at Arlington Books. The Desmond Elliott Prize is administered by Emma Manderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Previous winners of the Desmond Elliott Prize:
· The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (Chatto & Windus), 2012
· Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate), 2011
· The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw (Atlantic Books), 2010
· Blackmoor by Edward Hogan (Simon & Schuster), 2009
· Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking), 2008
5. To find out more about the Desmond Elliott Prize please visit www.desmondelliottprize.org
6. The Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 longlist in detail:
The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (Sceptre)
On May 30th, 1593, a celebrated young playwright, poet and spy was killed in a tavern brawl in London, or so the official version goes. In The Marlowe Papers the truth is revealed, in blank verse, according to Christopher Marlowe himself: that his supposed death was an elaborate ruse to avoid being convicted of heresy; that he was spirited across the Channel to live on in lonely exile; and that he continued to write, hiding behind the name of a colourless man from Stratford – one William Shakespeare.
About the author:
Ros Barber is the author of three volumes of poetry and her work has appeared in publications such as Poetry Review, London Magazine, the Guardian and Independent on Sunday. She has a PhD on Marlowe and has recently been appointed Associate of the Shakespearian Authorship Trust. She lives in Brighton and has four children.
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Hodder & Stoughton)
Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life. And he knows that even the most improbable events can happen – he’s got the scars to prove it. What he doesn’t know yet is that when he meets ill-tempered, reclusive widower Mr Peterson, he’ll make an unlikely friend, someone who tells him that you only get one shot in life. So when, aged 17, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing…
About the author
Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in Lincolnshire. From the ages of five to 11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game. He now lives in Sheffield.
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (William Heinemann)
Anais Hendricks is in the back of a police car, heading for The Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember the events that led her here, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and there is blood on Anais's school uniform. The residents of the Panopticon form intense bonds and Anais finds herself part of an ad-hoc family. Much more suspicious are the social workers. Looking up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais knows her fate: she is part of an experiment, she always was, and the experiment is closing in.
About the author
Jenni Fagan was born in Livingston, Scotland. She graduated from Greenwich University with the highest possible mark for a student of Creative Writing and won a scholarship to the Royal Holloway MFA. A published poet, she has won awards from Arts Council England, Dewar Arts, and Scottish Screen among others and was included in Granta Magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists list 2013. Fagan works as a writer in residence in hospitals and prisons and lives in London.
The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland (Harper Fiction)
Before Eve is conceived, her mother goes to the circus to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion. When Eve is born, the story goes, she didn’t cry – she meowed and licked her paws.
When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is dead but as they divvy up the contents of his pockets, his eyes crack open.
Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel soar to fame as The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, the star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner’s Palace of Curiosities. And there begins a journey that will entwine their fates forever.
About the author
Born in London to a runaway teenager, Rosie Garland is an eclectic writer and performer. She sang in goth band, The March Violets; toured with the Subversive Stitch exhibition; and is currently a cabaret chanteuse. Garland won the inaugural Mslexia Novel Competition in 2012, has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologised. She lives in Manchester.
Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (Serpent’s Tail)
Petite Mort, or, A Little Death was a silent film, destroyed in a fire in 1914 at the Pathé studio before it was seen even by its directors. A combination of a lowly seamstress, who believes her talent - and the secret she keeps - will soon get her a dressing room of her own; a beautiful house in Paris, with a curving staircase, a lake and locked rooms; and a famous – and dashing – creator of spectacular cinematic illusions, husband to a beautiful, volatile actress, the most adored icon of the Parisian studios, all mix together among the scandal, intoxication and lies of the silent film studios of Paris.
About the author
Beatrice Hitchman was born in London in 1980. She read English and French at Edinburgh University and then studied for an MA in Comparative Literature and spent a year living in Paris. A former television video editor and short filmmaker, Hitchman’s films have screened at festivals worldwide. In 2009 she completed the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She lives in Bristol.
The Fields by Kevin Maher (Little, Brown)
Dublin, 1984: Jim Finnegan is the youngest in his family with five raucous older sisters, a dad who has become weirdly disengaged from daily life and two best friends at the opposite ends of the spectrum of cool. Torn between the uncomplicated pleasure of bike rides with geeky Gary, and the lure of the wild Mozzo, Jim bursts along through life until he meets the local beauty, Saidhbh. Despite his rapidly blossoming romance with Saidhbh, all is not well in Jim's world: he must battle with a manipulative local priest, the challenges of life in a tight-knit family and simply growing up.
About the author
Kevin Maher was born and brought up in Dublin, moving to London in 1994 to begin a career in journalism. He wrote for the Guardian, the Observer and Time Out, and was film editor of The Face until 2002. For the last eight years, he has been a feature writer, critic and columnist for The Times. He lives in Hertfordshire.
Signs of Life by Anna Raverat (Picador)
Ten years ago, Rachel had an affair. It spiralled out of control and left her and her life in pieces. Now, writing at her window, she tries to put those pieces back together. She has her memories, recollections of dreams, and her old yellow notebook. More than anything, she wants to be honest. She knows that her memory is patchy and her notebook incomplete. But there is something else. Something terrible happened to her lover. But is she telling us the truth?
About the author
Anna Raverat was born in Cambridge and grew up in a farmhouse in North Yorkshire. She is descended from Gwendolin Raverat, a celebrated artist and member of the Bloomsbury group. She read English at King’s College, Cambridge University and works as a consultant in organisation development and leadership. She lives in London with her three children.
Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard (Hutchinson)
Walking through the fields, Desiree finds a tiny baby, wrapped in a newspaper bundle, left in the ditch. No-one had ever bothered much about Desiree but now everyone is interested in her, in what she saw, in who the parents might be and why they’d dump a baby. As years go by and everyone else moves on with their lives, Desiree feels stuck, unable to forget what she saw that day. But when she starts to make connections which bring the truth dangerously close to home, it seems that some secrets are best left alone.
About the author
Sarah Ridgard was born in Suffolk. After some years travelling and working with Amnesty International, Oxfam and Oxford University Press, Ridgard graduated from the MA in Creative Writing course at the University of Anglia with a distinction. She now lives in Norwich with her husband and two children.
Jammy Dodger by Kevin Smith (Sandstone Press)
Life is sweet for would-be bohemian Artie Conville. Safe at the helm of his subsidised magazine - with a cosy office paid for by the tax-payer - he’s content to drift along quoting poetry, lingering over long lunches and flirting with the lovely Rosie McCann. The main thing is to keep the real world of nine-to-five jobs, mortgages and political violence at bay. So when his cushy number is threatened, Artie hatches a cunning plan to keep the funds coming in.
About the author
Kevin Smith was born in London in 1963 and grew up in Northern Ireland. After studying English and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast he worked in print, broadcast and newswire journalism in Ireland and the UK, and was a foreign correspondent in Eastern Europe for a number of years. He lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.
The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace (Simon & Schuster)
In the winter of 1859, Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature, receives its newest arrival, Anna Palmer. Tricked by her new husband into incarceration and declared hysterical and unhinged, Anna has no doubts as to her sanity and is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her story. But Anna learns that liberty will not come easily. The longer she remains at Lake House, the more she realises that nothing is as it appears.
About the author
Wendy Wallace is an award-winning freelance journalist and writer based in London, whose articles have appeared in the Telegraph, the Guardian the Scotsman and the Times Education Supplement. She is the author of two non-fiction books, Daughter of Dust and Oranges and Lemons. In 2001 she was awarded Education Journalist of the Year. Wallace lives in London.