Gail Honeyman, Sally Rooney and Preti Taneja are among the "powerful array of distinctive voices" on this year's Desmond Elliott Prize longlist, announced today (23rd March).
The 10 longlisted authors will be battling it out for the £10,000 prize which is awarded in the name of the late literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott.
Glasgow-based author Honeyman is longlisted for her debut Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (HarperCollins), which has already won her the Costa First Novel Award and is shortlisted for the debut book of the year at The British Book Awards. Rooney, longlisted for Conversations with Friends (Faber), was the 2017 winner of the Sunday Time/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award. Also longlisted is Lucy Hughes-Hallett – for Peculiar Ground (4th Estate) – who was one of the three judges of last year's Young Writer award.
Many of the longlisted novelists are former or current journalists. Xan Brooks, author of The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times (Salt) was formerly an associate editor for the Guardian, and Paula Cocozza, author of How to be Human (Hutchinson) is a feature writer for the title. Francesca Hornak, longlisted for Seven Days of Us (Piatkus), was the author of a column for the Sunday Times Style magazine before turning her hand to novel writing.
Independent publisher Galley Beggar Press is longlisted for the fifth year in a row with Taneja's We That Are Young, while leading Irish independent New Island Books is featured for the first time with One Star Awake by Andrew Meehan.
Rounding out the longlist are The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker) and How Saints Die by Carmen Marcus (Harvill Secker).
The Chairman of the Prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson said: “It is a pleasure to reveal this exemplary longlist, containing such a powerful array of distinctive voices. We are extremely pleased to see that some publishers appear to be investing more in debut fiction, as evidenced from the success of several of the novels on our longlist. However, as the point of our prize is to help debut writers sustain their careers, we hope that investment continues to our authors’ second and third books.”
Judge for this year’s Prize and award-winning journalist, Samira Ahmed said: “I haven’t judged a book prize before but it has always been debut novels that have most intrigued me and provided some of my most fascinating conversations with writers. I’ve never loved anything more than reading so I can’t think of anything more delightful than being presented with so many titles by new talents.”
Last year, the Prize was awarded to Francis Spufford for his debut novel, Golden Hill (Faber). Other past-winners include Lisa McInerney, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride.
Ahmed is joined on the judging panel by author and this year’s chair of judges Sarah Perry, and head of fiction and publisher liaison for Waterstones, Chris White. A shortlist will be announced on 27th April and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 20th June, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.