Claire Adam has won the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for first-time novelists with her “electrifying” debut Golden Child (Faber).
Adam was named the winner at a ceremony this evening (19th June), from a three-book shortlist featuring Hold by Michael Donkor (Fourth Estate) and Anna Mackmin’s Devoured (Propolis).
Set in the colourful but dangerous Trinidad of Adam’s own childhood, Golden Child tells of Clyde Deyalsingh’s relationship with his twin sons Peter and Paul. One is driven and academically gifted, the other is a dreamer and indecipherable. When ‘misfit’ Paul is abducted, Clyde must race to save the son he never understood.
Chair of judges Alan Hollinghurst praised the novel, saying: “Our 2019 winner Claire Adam demonstrates masterly control as she details the tragic fracturing of a family, and the beauty and the latent violence of her Trinidadian setting are miraculously vivid. Her novel combines the harsh force of a fable with the unforgettable strangeness of real life and, like all the very best debuts, Golden Child gives a sudden and enlightening view of both a new subject and a new mind.”
Hollinghurst was joined on the judging panel by literary editor of the Times, Robbie Millen, and managing director of the Booksellers Association, Meryl Halls
Chairman of the prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “This electrifying psychological thriller contains a vibrancy and life that we know Desmond Elliott would have greatly admired. It is our hope that winning the prize will help cement Claire Adam’s reputation as an up-and-coming star and support her in the writing of a second novel which equals, if not surpasses, her deeply impressive first offering.”
The prize, named after literary agent and publisher Elliott, is an annual award for a first novel written in English and published in the UK. Last year’s prize was awarded to Preti Taneja for her epic novel We That Are Young (Galley Beggar), which has since been published in the US and Canada, India, Germany and France and is currently being adapted for television by producer Dina Dattani for Gaumont US.