McInerney claims Desmond Elliott Prize in second major win

McInerney claims Desmond Elliott Prize in second major win

Lisa McInerney has won the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize 2016 for The Glorious Heresies (John Murray) following closely on the heels of her Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction win just two weeks ago.

McInerney was crowned the winner at a ceremony held at Fortnum & Mason in London this evening (22nd June), where she was hailed “a major literary figure of the next generation”. 

Her darkly funny novel was chosen by a “unanimous” decision from the judging panel, comprising chair of the judges Iain Pears, The Pool’s Sam Baker and Katy Guest, former literary editor of the Independent on Sunday.

The youngest of the shortlisted authors, McInerney, 34, overcame competition for the coveted prize from fellow Irish author Gavin McCrea, who was shortlisted for Mrs Engels (Scribe), and from Julia Rochester, whose "part mystery, part psychological drama" The House at the Edge of the World (Penguin) was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Lisa McInerney, Gavin McCrea and Julia Rochester.

The Glorious Heresies is McInerney's first novel and, in addition to winning the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, it has also been longlisted for the 2016 Dylan Thomas Prize. Set in post-crash Ireland, it begins with a grandmother’s “messy murder” of an intruder with a religious ornament, forcing her to call on her estranged gangster son to help clear it up.

Pears said: “We knew we had found a major literary figure of the next generation when we made our choice last month – it’s good to see other prize judges have subsequently agreed with us. Lisa is a genuinely exciting writer – there is electricity running through her prose. This is a complex, unusual, violent book, bleak but with welcome humour, and she manages a huge cast with confidence; there is never any doubt that she is in complete control, right to the unexpected but perfect ending. I know what it is to try and control a complicated text, and spent years learning my trade. She has done it on her first outing, and that is close to astounding.”

He added: “We should never forget that editors and authors work in partnership; each must support the other. Authors need time to grow and develop, but editors need the encouragement to stick with them during this long – and sometimes erratic – process and they deserve our applause when they do – applause the Desmond Elliott Prize is happy to deliver.  With luck, all the authors on our shortlist will get that support, as they have already shown what they can achieve, and have given a hint about what they might be able to accomplish in the future.”

Katy Guest, Lisa McInerney, Sam Baker and Iain Pears.

Mark Richards, editorial director at John Murray Press, signed McInerney in 2014, and also edited Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney, which won both the Costa First Novel Award and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards. 

The Desmond Elliott Prize, now in its ninth year, is designed to spot "up-and-coming" novelists in the UK and Ireland with a view to "propelling them to greater recognition and success". 

McInerney is currently working on her second novel under contract with John Murray, where some of the characters from The Glorious Heresies are likely to reappear, with the novel confirmed to be set in the same world.

Dallas Manderson, chairman of the Prize Trustees, said: “The mission of our judges is not just to find the best debut novel of the year, but also to identify a writer who will go on to write more and even better novels. This is what Iain, Sam and Katy have done this year in choosing Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies. It is a supremely confident and compelling work and leaves one in no doubt that we will hear much, much more from this wondrously talented young writer. After two major prize wins in just a fortnight, there is no doubt that The Glorious Heresies is an absolutely great book which transcends category or criteria.”