The Desmond Elliott Prize is a prize 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.
Charismatic, witty, and waspish, Elliott lived his life with sparkle. He drank only champagne, always crossed the Atlantic on Concorde and lunched at Fortnum and Mason. His office was in Mayfair and he had houses in St James's and on Park Avenue. Desmond Elliott's ethos to support new writers will live on in the shape of the prize.
When choosing the winner, a panel of 3 judges will look for a novel which creates a buzz, a book with word of mouth appeal. In addition, the judges will look for the following qualities:
* a novel which is a page-turner but which makes you pause for thought
* an intelligent book with broad appeal
Grace McCleen was announced at the winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2012 on Thursday 28 June for her novel The Land of Decoration.
Speaking about the prize Grace McCleen said:
‘It was completely unexpected and I am so happy and proud that you chose my book. I have my big book to finish so the money could not have come at a better time – and it is so appreciated.’
Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate)
Edward Stourton, Chair of Judges, comments, “We were united in our admiration for Saraswati Park, which we found utterly absorbing and faultlessly written. The characters are beautifully rendered, and their lives, with their ambitions and regrets, stay with you long after you have closed the last page. Anjali Joseph's skills as a novelist are humbling.” Described by The Times as “a latter-day Mrs Gaskell”, Anjali Joseph quickly attracted the attention of the literary world: The Observer described Saraswati Park as “An elegantly realised portrait of unrequited love, frustrated aspirations and the unspoken compromises of marriage and family” and The Literary Review praised this “beautiful novel that personifies the new India from the inside out’. The Daily Telegraph selected Anjali Joseph as one of its “Top 20 Novelists under 40” alongside other outstanding emerging writers such as Zadie Smith and Adam Foulds.
The Girl with Glass Feet Paperback Ali Shaw
"'Magical' Guardian 'Ali Shaw has written a rare orchid of a book, beautiful and eccentric and exquisitely sad' Patrick Ness 'Shaw has worked the great tradition of European fairy tales and come up with an ingenious story... A magical fable of fate and resignation.' Guardian 'Virtually weightless in execution... Read�more ..........�See Ali Shaw's Author Page
Other shortlisted for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2010:
The Desmond Elliott Prize 2009 panel of judges was chaired by Candida Lycett Green, former Literary Editor of The Independent on Sunday, Suzi Feay, and Rodney Troubridge of Waterstone's.
* Blackmoor aby Edward Hogan (Simon & Schuster)
A Shakespearian tragedy in the heart of the Derbyshire moors: a woman whose face doesn't fit; a child left without a mother; a love that lasts forever.
Beth is an albino, half blind, and given to looking at the world out of the corner of her eye. Her neighbours in the Derbyshire town of Blackmoor have always thought she was 'touched', and when a series of bizarre happenings shake the very foundations of the village, they are confirmed in their opinion that Beth is an ill omen. The neighbours say that Beth eats dirt from the flowerbeds, and that smoke rises from her lawn. By the end of the year, she is dead.
'There's a subtle magic to Hogan's prose, and a passionate concern for the part of the world where this novel is based, which invites comparison with D H Lawrence – but that would be lazy. This novel ... has confidence, mystery and an entrancing sense of itself.' The Independent on Sunday
A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi (Fourth Estate)
Ten-year-old Ruba lives in a village outside Beirut. From her family home, she can see the buildings shimmering on the horizon and the sea stretched out beside them. She can also hear the rumble of the shelling - this is Lebanon in the 1980s and civil war is tearing the country apart.
Ruba, however, has her own worries. Her father hardly ever speaks and spends most of his days sitting in his armchair, avoiding work and family. Her elder brother, Naji, has started to spend his time with older boys - and some of them have guns.
When Ruba uncovers her father's secret, she starts a journey that takes her from childhood to the beginnings of adulthood. And she realises, as Israeli troops invade and danger comes ever closer, that she may not be able to keep her family safe. (read more)
'Captivating. A subtle, pertinent depiction of civilian life in the midst of bewildering conflict.' The Guardian
The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn (Jonathan Cape)
Summer, 1939. Historian Tom Baines is at work on a study of Liverpool's architectural past. His mood, like the rest of the country's, is distracted by the ominous rumblings from Europe; if war should come, will the buildings and streets that he documents survive? Orphaned as a child and now approaching forty with no prospect of a family of his own, Baines is a man emotionally adrift. But his faltering project receives a boost when a photographer, Richard Tanqueray, and his wife Bella befriend him, and together they work against the clock of a rapidly contracting peacetime.
A further preoccupation takes hold when he begins to read the long-forgotten journals of a brilliant young Victorian architect, Peter Eames, a disciple of Ruskin who briefly flourished in Liverpool during the 1860s before his fortunes collapsed and his reputation fell into neglect.
'Ambitiously conceived...perfect pitch when it comes to the prose of each period' The Observer
2009 Other Longlisted
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Nikita Lalwani was named the inaugural winner of the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for Gifted, a story about a maths prodigy growing up in 1980s Cardiff, published by Penguin Books.
Penny Vincenzi, Chair of the Judges, commented,
�Gifted is a book of extraordinary range; it is touching, tender, funny and at the same time truly compelling. It covers the issues of duty and family loyalty, and the demands of an extraordinary talent, while holding at its heart the story of a young girl struggling with the agony of first love and her own, very particular, identity. Above all, it has a wonderfully bittersweet charm and for that reason Desmond Elliott would have loved it.�
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 2007 and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2007and the Glen Dimplex Fiction Award 2007.
A child prodigy, Nikita wanted to take her maths O-level early but was dissuaded by her father. She initially studied medicine at Oxford University but left after her first year, realising that it wasn'st a career she wished to pursue.
She then read English at Bristol University and continued on to a post-graduate degree in journalism and creative writing.
Gifted was written in 18 months and Nikita received responses from potential agents within two days of looking. The Bookseller cited the book as �one of the most coveted British fiction debuts of the year�. Nikita lives in London with her husband and child.
2008 Shortlist Desmond Eliot Prize
* Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)- Winner
* Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)
* Sunday at the Cross Bones by John Walsh (Fourth Estate)
Winner - Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
Rumi Vashey is ten years, two months, thirteen days, two hours, forty-two minutes and six seconds old. The probability of her walking home from school with John Kemble is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy frock and thick woollen tights she is forced to wear by her father. For Rumi is a gifted child and, as her father sees it, discipline is everything - read more
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Simon & SchusterISBN10: 1847391591��ISBN13: 9781847391599��
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.
Sunday At The Cross Bones by John Walsh
Harper Collins ISBN10: 0007139330��ISBN13: 9780007139330
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.
A kaleidoscopic journey through post-World War I London in the footsteps of the real-life Rector of Stiffkey -- a story by turns funny, moving and scandalous. A kaleidoscopic journey through post-World War I London in the footsteps of the real...
Other Longlisted 2008
Broken by Daniel Clay
Part narrated by Skunk Cunningham, an eleven-year-old girl in a coma, Broken. A Novel tells the intertwining stories of three families who live in a suburban square in the south of England. The Oswalds – Bob and his five daughters – are the neighbours from hell. They lie, steal, cheat, bully and intimidate anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near them, including Rick Buckley, a geeky but harmless nineteen-year-old boy who lives with his mum and dad on the other side of the square.
You thought your neighbours were bad? Wait till you meet the Oswalds. They're crass, cruel and seemingly untouchable. Until, that is, they go one step too far -- and the results begin to tear an entire community apart. You thought your neighbours...
Submarine by Joe Dunthorne
Hello, I'sm Oliver Tate, the protagonist. I'sm 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.
Convinced that his father is depressed and his mother is having an affair with her capoeira teacher, "a hippy-looking twonk", Oliver Tate embarks on a misguided campaign to bring the family back together. Meanwhile, he is also trying to lose his...
The Truth About These Strange Times by Adam Foulds
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 McNameeis 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.
A brilliant, touching and funny debut about an extraordinary friendship, a kidnapping, memory championships and a Russian bride Saul Dawson-Smith can memorise the sequence of a shuffled deck of cards in under a minute; he can recite pi to a...
The Outcast by Sadie Jones
The Outcast is about a boy called Lewis - his childhood and adolescence – as he grows up in the stultifying world of thehome counties in the late forties and fifties. It is an everyday tale of drunkenness, violence and a fair amount of sex, set amongst the well-brought-up professional classes. It is also a love story. Sadie Jones was born in London. Her father is the Jamaican poet and screenwriter Evan Jones, and her mother was an actress.
1957, and Lewis Aldridge is travelling back to his home in the South of England. He is straight out of jail and nineteen years old. His return will trigger the implosion not just of his family, but of a whole community.A decade earlier...Kill Your Friends by John Niven
It's not dog-eat-dog around here...it's dog-gang-rapes, dog then tortures him for five days before burying him alive and taking out every motherfucker the dog has ever known. 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 - 'Yeah, those animals'.
Presents a dark, satirical and hysterically funny evisceration of the record business, a place populated by frauds, charlatans and bluffers, where ambition is a higher currency than talent, and where it seems anything can be achieved ...
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.
Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
1992: Leo Deakin wakes up in a hospital somewhere in South America. His girlfriend Eleni is dead and Leo doesn'stknow 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 hisvillage and his sweetheart, whose memory has kept him alive through carnage and captivity.
The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi
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.