Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award Shortlist Announced

We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2014. The six books were selected by a panel of Club members after intense and wide-ranging debate.

‘Fiendish twists, harrowing ordeals, troubled upbringings, tough choices, heartlifting epiphanies and irrepressible humour – this year’s BFNA shortlist has all this and more,” commented the chair of judges, literary critic Suzi Feay. “We’re looking for born storytellers with a mastery of language and the promise of even greater things to come. From the 60-plus submissions for the prize, we’re delighted to recommend these six splendid novels.”

The shortlisted titles are:

  • The Trader of Saigon Lucy Cruickshanks (Heron)
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Hodder)
  • The Fields by Kevin Maher (Little, Brown)
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar)
  • The Banner of the Passing Cloud Anthea Nicholson (Granta)
  • The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf (Chatto & Windus)

The six books were chosen from an exceptionally strong longlist, which included such outstanding contenders as The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (HarperCollins), The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland (HarperCollins), Vauxhall by Gabriel Gbadamosi (Telegram), Hunters in the Snow by Daisy Hildyard (Cape), Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (Serpent’s Tail) and The Rice Paper Diaries by Francesca Rhydderch (Seren)

There will be a reading from the shortlisted novels by their authors at Waterstone’s bookshop, 82 Gower Street, London WC1E 6EQ, on Thursday 29 May.

The winner will be announced and the £2500 prize presented at a reception at the National Liberal Club in London on Tuesday 3 June by this year’s guest adjudicator Isabel Wolff, author of ten novels, the latest of which is Ghostwritten.

From its inception in 1954, the award has gone to writers who have subsequently enjoyed distinguished careers, including Brian Moore for The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Alan Sillitoe for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Paul Bailey for At the Jerusalem. Recent winners have included Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp, Kevin Barry, and most recently Ros Barber and I.J. Kay

The prize is administrated by the club, and members form an important part of the judging process right up to the shortlist, assisted by a formal panel also composed of club members. Once the shortlist has been drawn up an independent adjudicator is called in, and selecting the winning title is solely their responsibility. Recent adjudicators have included Salley Vickers, D.J. Taylor, Joanne Harris, Amanda Craig and Philip Hensher.

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