Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The shortlist for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2009, the award for a first novel published in the UK, is announced today, Tuesday 26 May 2009. The line-up features three outstanding first novels described by the judges as “three haunting books, all gripping in different ways.” Edward Hogan, Nathalie Abi-Ezzi and Anthony Quinn from Derby, Lebanon and Liverpool respectively, all use their homelands as the backdrop for their novels.

The three novels shortlisted for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2009 are as follows:

Blackmoor by Edward Hogan (Simon & Schuster)There's a subtle magic to Hogan's prose, and a passionate concern for the part of the world where this novel is based, which invites comparison with D H Lawrence – but that would be lazy. This novel … has confidence, mystery and an entrancing sense of itself.’ The Independent on Sunday. Find the link to S&S page for Blackmoor here.

A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi (Fourth Estate)‘Captivating. A subtle, pertinent depiction of civilian life in the midst of bewildering conflict.’ The Guardian Find the link to Harper Collins (Fourth Estate) site here.

The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn (Jonathan Cape)
Ambitiously conceived...perfect pitch when it comes to the prose of each period' The Observer Find the link to more information at Random House (Jonathan Cape) here.

Candida Lycett Green, on behalf of the judges, comments:

“We have been both entertained and inspired by the quality of writing amongst the contenders for this year’s shortlist and it was very difficult to decide on a final three. The result is a shortlist of three haunting books, all gripping in different ways while dealing with the complications of love and life in extremis. Together they are a celebration of new writing of which Desmond Elliott would be proud.”

The Desmond Elliott Prize 2009 panel of judges is chaired by Candida Lycett Green who is joined by former Literary Editor of The Independent on Sunday, Suzi Feay, and Rodney Troubridge of Waterstone’s.

William Hill bookmakers gave the following odds on this year’s shortlist:

Blackmoor by Edward Hogan (Simon & Schuster) – 5/4
A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi (Fourth Estate) – 7/4
The Rescue Man by Anthony Quinn (Jonathan Cape) – 2/1

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe commented, “There is a well-known horse racing adage which says 'always back the outsider in a three horse race'. This is one of the most competitive three horse literary races I can recall, and it is impossible to rule any one of the three out as a potential winner. Each has its own very worthy merits and I don't envy the judges their task of selecting a winner from what looks to be a genuine three-way photo finish.”

When judging the Prize, the judges are looking for a novel of depth and breadth with a compelling narrative. The work should be vividly written and confidently realised and should contain original and arresting characters. Books from all fiction genres have been considered.

The inaugural prize was won by Nikita Lalwani in 2008 for her novel, Gifted. The novel enjoyed great critical and popular success and went on to be named as one of The Observer’s Books of the Year.

The Prize was established in honour of publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, one of the most charismatic and successful men in this field, who died in August'03. He stipulated that his estate should be invested in a charitable trust that would fund a literary award “to enrich the careers of new writers”.

Worth £10,000 to the winner, the prize is intended to support new writers and to celebrate their fiction.

The winner of the 2009 Desmond Elliott Prize will be announced on Wednesday 24 June at Fortnum & Mason, Desmond’s ‘local grocer’, in London.

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