Elizabeth is Missing and The Miniaturist lead the charge on The Desmond Elliott Prize longlist in “remarkable” year for debut fiction.
Two number one bestsellers – Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – are among ten novels longlisted today (2nd April) for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015, hailed as the “most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (Telegraph). The novels, which are still riding high in the bestseller charts, are indicative of a particularly strong year for debut writers.
The ten books demonstrate exceptional inventiveness and experimentation in terms of location, time, theme and style: from the magic of extreme anthropomorphism in Laline Paull’s The Bees, to the wondrous shadow language created by Paul Kingsnorth for The Wake, a post-apocalyptic novel set three years after the Battle of Hastings; from the terrifying culinary underworld of a gastropub kitchen in Simon Wroe’s Chop Chop, to the high-rise drama atop London’s Shard in Glass by Alex Christofi.
This year’s longlist also reflects the strength of independent publishing with a title each from Galley Beggar Press (Randall) and Serpent’s Tail (Glass), as well as the first crowd-funded fiction to feature on The Desmond Elliott Prize longlist, Unbound’s The Wake.
Chair of judges and best-selling author Louise Doughty said: “One of the many exciting aspects of this year’s longlist is the breadth of the books, in terms of subject matter and style, but also the level of attention the books have received so far. Two of our titles are already acclaimed bestsellers, others have received critical attention – and some are names that are either published very recently or haven’t yet had their moment in the spotlight. It’s incredibly thrilling to have such a disparate list to choose from and the field is wide open.”
Dallas Manderson, Chairman of the Prize Trustees, said: “It has been a remarkable twelve months for debut fiction both in terms of sales and literary achievement. We are very proud to present a longlist highlighting ten such varied, ambitious and beautifully written books, and I’m sure that Desmond Elliott, who in his lifetime nurtured first time novelists, would be pleased to see the health of debut fiction today.”
The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015 longlist in full (in alphabetical order by title):
• The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah (Doubleday)
• The Bees by Laline Paull (Fourth Estate)
• Chop Chop by Simon Wroe (Viking)
• Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Viking)
• Glass by Alex Christofi (Serpent’s Tail)
• The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador)
• Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (Fig Tree)
• Randall by Jonathan Gibbs (Galley Beggar Press)
• A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (Hutchinson)
• The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Prize is presented in the name of the late, acclaimed publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, whose passion for finding and nurturing new authors is perpetuated by his Prize. Now in its eighth year, the award has an established record for spotting up-and-coming novelists in the UK and Ireland and propelling them to greater recognition and success. The 2014 winner was Eimear McBride, author of the much-garlanded and critically lauded A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. Other past winners include Grace McCleen, Anjali Joseph, Edward Hogan and Ali Shaw.
A shortlist will be announced on 15th May, and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 1st July, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.