Unbound editor Beth Lewis is up against Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Colson Whitehead for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2017 celebrating contemporary fiction published the previous year.
Lewis, who recently joined Unbound as a new projects editor from Titan Books in July, was longlisted for the prize for her debut literary thriller, The Wolf Road, a book about a young heroine attempting to escape her past in a vast and ravaged land.
By contrast Whitehead is in the running for his sixth novel, The Underground Railroad (Fleet). The book about slavery in the antebellum American South amassed a collection of accolades in the last year since helping to launch Ursula Doyle's new literary imprint for Little Brown, Fleet, most recently the Arthur C Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature at the end of July on top of America's prestigious National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the endorsement of former president Barack Obama for whom it was the last book he read while in office.
Authors Harry Parker, Chris Cleave, Adam Hamdy and Ian McGuire will also battle it out on the six-strong longlist. The independent bookshop's new annual award is worth £2,000 and will be bestowed on a novel published the previous year in the UK it believes is "compelling" and possesses "brilliant characterisation with a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised".
On the topic of war, Parker is longlisted for Anatomy of a Soldier (Faber), about the impact of an exploding IED on a soldier's life, and Cleave puts in an appearance for Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), a wartime epic he told The Bookseller's Books Editor Alice O'Keeffe last year was inspired by his own family history. Although Cleave's fourth novel, it is his first to have been set in the past, following his 2005 début novel Incendiary, international bestseller The Other Hand, and Olympic cycling story Gold.
Screenwriter and author Hamdy is longlisted for Pendulum (Headline), a book James Patterson hailed "one of the best thrillers of the year" and was picked up by NBCUniversal International Studios to be developed into a new television series.
And, rounding off the longlist, McGuire is longlisted for his second novel, whaling tale The North Water (Scribner), which earned him the £10,000 RSL Encore Award.
Open to both established and debut authors, the award has been judged by managing director David Headley and his team at Goldsboro Books, based on what they have read and enjoyed throughout the previous year. The team chose "standout" novels, they said, and considered novels of all genres.
The prize was designed to celebrate 18 years of bookselling for Goldsboro Books and, according to the retailer, as a means "to give something back to the authors who continually support our shop, signing and taking part in our wide array of events".
The award will be presented on 28th September 2017.