Judges reveal debut authors' novels shortlisted for prestigious literary prize


Novels about a murder that affects the lives of five misfits, a poor worker from the Irish slums in 1870 and a family dealing with the aftermath of a drunken fall from a Devon cliff make up the shortlist for a prestigious literary prize for debut authors. 

Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea, The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney and The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester are all in the running for the Desmond Elliott Prize after a longlist of 10 novels published in the last year by British and Irish writers was whittled down to three. 

Iain Pears, chair of judges for the prize, said the writers delivered books that belied their position as debut authors.

He added: "These are hugely ambitious, complex, confident works by three extremely talented writers and it is wonderful that the Desmond Elliott Prize exists to help them reach the wide audience they so richly deserve.

"With the demise of the Guardian First Book Award, a prize like this is all the more important to new writers."

He added: "There are titles we are all sad not to take further in this prize but we are sure we have selected three exceptional books from fully formed talents.

"They are all very different, but all absolutely meet the prize's criteria of delivering a compulsive narrative, characters you can believe are real and brilliant, confident writing.

"These authors deliver all three in spades."

Pears is joined on the judging panel by Sam Baker, co-founder of The Pool and Katy Guest, former literary editor of the Independent on Sunday.

Dallas Manderson, chairman of the prize trustees, said: "We are thrilled to present these outstanding titles in our search for this year's best debut novel.

"The judges have done an admirable job selecting a shortlist from a longlist of huge variety in both style and scope.

"I believe Desmond Elliott would have thoroughly approved of this shortlist, and we all look forward to seeing which book ultimately takes the prize."

The award is named after the publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott. Previous winners include Claire Fuller, Eimear McBride, Grace McCleen, Anjali Joseph, and Edward Hogan.

The winner will presented with a cheque for £10,000 at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on June 22.