Francis Spufford's much-lauded Golden Hill (Faber) has gained yet another prize nod, this time on the six-strong shortlist for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2017 (£2,500).
Golden Hill (Faber), a debut that was crowned the winner of the Costa First Novel Award last year, is currently also in the running for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017 and the Rathbones Folio Prize 2017. The judges described its plot "intricate beyond the dreams of Machiavelli" while the prose "flows with unwavering assurance, arresting imagery and much vivid detail".
Also shortlisted is Barney Norris' Salisbury-set novel Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain (Doubleday), about the lives of five different characters that intersect in the aftermath of a serious car crash, was picked as "a beautifully moving, thought-provoking creation". In interview with The Bookseller last year, Norris said: "I wanted to draw a map of the place [Salisbury] through people"; the book's title is taken from Salisbury’s unusual geography and provided Norris with the structure for the novel.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, who at the end of March was longlisted for the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize and recently published a short story in How Much the Heart Can Hold (Sceptre), has been shortlisted for Harmless Like You (Sceptre). The novel, about a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist and her son, was also selected for the inaugural Jhalak Prize longlist. The judges called it "an ambitious account of the search for identity and the need to belong in some way", describing the nuances of cultural differences "fascinating".
Also shortlisted is The Words In My Hand (Two Roads) by Guinever Glasfurd, described as "a lovely book, taking the genre of historical fiction to a new level".
Independent publishers accounted for half of the books on the six-strong shortlist, with Faber publishing two. In addition to Spufford's Golden Hill (Faber), Harry Parker's Anatomy of a Soldier (Faber) also made the cut as "a gripping work, terse, perceptive and profound". Fellow independent Canongate was represented on the list by Jess Kidd's murder mystery Himself, set in a remote village in the west of Ireland. The judges said Kidd was "a fabulous writer", adding: "I’m sure we’ll hear much more of her."
Chair of the judges Lucy Popescu said: “This year, we had a very strong longlist, producing a passionate debate, but we managed to whittle down the list to six books. I’m relieved we have Roma Tearne, this year’s guest adjudicator, to decide our overall winner.”
Shortlisted authors will attend an event at Waterstones Piccadilly on 25th May.
The shortlist was drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Popescu, with writer Tearne set to choose the victor. It will be announced on 8th June.