The longlist for the 2021 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award has been announced, dominated by debut novels, including Richard Osman's bestseller The Thursday Murder Club (Viking) and Abi Daré (pictured) for The Girl with the Louding Voice (Sceptre).
Now in its fifth year, the award celebrates the best storytelling across contemporary fiction, regardless of genre, with the winner receiving £2,000 and a handmade, engraved glass bell.
Of the 12 longlisted titles, eight are first novels. These includes two debuts which reimagine historical events: The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi (Mantle), set in an alternate Elizabethan England; and The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (Harper Voyager), which follows a failed second French Revolution. Also longlisted is Clare Whitfield’s historical thriller People of Abandoned Character (Head of Zeus), a compelling take on the Jack the Ripper story.
They are joined by two critically acclaimed debut crime novels: Blacktop Wasteland by S A Cosby (Headline), which was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger; and Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi (Michael Joseph). Rounding off the crime bunch is The First Sister by Linden Lewis (Hodder & Stoughton), a sweeping debut space opera.
The longlist also includes the Booker-nominated Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Bloomsbury) and Three Hours, the bestselling thriller from Rosamund Lupton (Viking). They are joined by two second novels, The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury Raven), whose high-concept debut thriller The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle won the Costa First Novel Award, and The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel (Hodder & Stoughton), whose debut thriller The Roanoke Girls was a bestseller.
David Headley, Goldsboro Books co-founder and m.d., said: "I can’t believe that this is our fifth Glass Bell Award. My team and I are incredibly proud of the prize that we’ve built over the last few years, celebrating contemporary storytelling of all genres. Stories unite and entertain us, and after the year we’ve had, this couldn’t be more important.
"I think that this year’s longlist might be the most varied and diverse we’ve ever had, with everything from speculative historical thrillers to a thoroughly modern space opera, to one of the most imaginative crime novels I’ve ever read. And I am delighted to see how many debut novelists we have on the longlist this year! If this list is anything to go by, the future of publishing is strong."
The Glass Bell Award is judged by Headley and his team at Goldsboro Books and is awarded annually to "a compelling novel with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised". The shortlist of six will be announced on 5th August, with the winner to be announced on 30th September.
Last year, the American novelist Taylor Jenkins Reid was awarded the Glass Bell for her "immersive" and "captivating" Daisy Jones and the Six (Cornerstone), which tells the story of the rise and fall of a fictional 1970s rock band.