Best First Novel Award

Shortlist announced for Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 

27.3.20

Today, the Authors’ Club announces the shortlist for the annual Best First Novel Award 2020. The shortlisted titles are as follows, with the judges’ assessments:

  • CLAIRE ADAM Golden Child (Faber & Faber)
    On a sultry night in Trinidad, an Indian father sets out to find his missing son. Tense, moving and richly atmospheric, it explores how our dreams for our children may be fraught with danger.
  • GEORGE ALAGIAH, The Burning Land (Canongate)
    A first-rate political thriller set in modern-day South Africa. Vividly written and masterfully constructed, Alagiah’s assured debut is full of suspense and sudden drama.
  • DAMIAN BARR, You Will Be Safe Here (Bloomsbury)
    Compelling from start to finish. Even the most threatening characters are sympathetically drawn and the parallel stories form a powerful exploration of Afrikaner identity and toxic masculinity.
  • JOANNA GLEN, The Other Half of Augusta Hope (Borough Press)
    This dazzling tale of a precocious girl’s rites of passage – and her attempts to discover a wider world beyond her family and home town – provokes both tears and laughter, often at the same time.
  • TJ GORTON, Only the Dead (Quartet)
    From a shelled-out house during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s, an old man looks back on an earlier conflict that shaped his destiny. Gorton’s attention to historical detail is superb.
  • BETH O’LEARY The Flatshare (Quercus)
    A man and a woman share a flat. One works days, the other nights. They have never met… What ensues provides the basis for a warm, funny, romantic comedy full of grace and humanity.

Lucy Popescu (chair of the judging panel) commented: “We have a perfect gender balance. These remarkable debuts cover diverse subjects from South Africa’s troubles to a young woman’s rite of passage, from the Armenian genocide of 1915 to a father’s harrowing decision in Trinidad. The list encompasses romantic love and terrible loss and is truly international in scope. Andrew Miller will have his work cut out in deciding the overall winner.”

The winner will be announced by on Wednesday 22 May.


Best First Novel Award 2020 Longlist

2.3.20

Today, the Authors’ Club announces the longlist for the annual Best First Novel Award. The longlisted books are as follows:

  • Claire Adam Golden Child (Faber & Faber)
  • George Alagiah, The Burning Land (Canongate)
  • Layla AlAmmar, The Pact We Made (Borough Press)
  • Jim Al-Khalili, Sunfall (Bantam Press)
  • Damian Barr, You Will Be Safe Here (Bloomsbury)
  • Sara Collins, The Confessions of Frannie Langton (Viking)
  • Joanna Glen, The Other Half of Augusta Hope (Borough Press)
  • T.J. Gorton, Only the Dead (Quartet)
  • Anne Griffin, When All is Said, (Sceptre)
  • Jenny McCartney, The Ghost Factory (4th Estate)
  • Beth O’ Leary, The Flatshare (Quercus)
  • Jacqueline O’Mahoney, A River in the Trees (Riverrun)
  • Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Blood & Sugar (Mantle)

Lucy Popescu (chair of the judging panel) commented: “We’ve had another bumper year and so have 13 on the longlist. These remarkable debut novelists cover an array of subjects from climate change to South Africa, from slavery to Irish history as well as contemporary social comedy. Once again women dominate the longlist. It’s a real privilege to be able to support a diverse list of debut novelists tackling such wide-ranging subjects.”

Key Dates

27 March: Shortlist announcement:
30 April: Shortlisted authors’ event at Hatchards Piccadilly
20 May: The winner will be announced at a dinner at the National Liberal Club:

About the Prize
The winning novel is selected by guest adjudicator Andrew Miller from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Lucy Popescu.

The prize is open to any debut novel written in English and published in the UK between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2019 with one important exception: novels first published in another country of origin will not be considered. The prize of £2500 exists to support UK-based authors, publishers and agents, so the novel must originate in the UK and not have been published anywhere else in the world before its UK publication

Inaugurated in 1954, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is now in its 66th year, making it the longest-running UK prize for debut fiction and – except for the James Tait Black and the Hawthornden – the oldest literary prize in Britain.

Past winners have included Brian Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Nadeem Aslam, Diran Adebayo, Jackie Kay, Susan Fletcher, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp, Kevin Barry, Ros Barber, Hisayo Rowan Buchanan and Gail Honeyman. Last year’s prize was awarded to Guy Gunaratne.

Past adjudicators have included Louise Doughty, AK Kennedy, Vikram Seth, Philip Hensher, Joanne Harris, Deborah Moggach and, going back further, Kingsley Amis and Compton Mackenzie.

About The Authors’ Club
Established by Walter Besant in 1891, the Club has provided a social meeting place for writers for 125 years.

Contact: lucyjpop@gmail.com


 

Guy Gunaratne wins Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award

The Authors’ Club is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2019 Best First Novel Award is Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City.

The guest adjudicator, Louise Doughty, presented the £2,500 award at a reception at the National Liberal Club in London on 22 May. She said:

“Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City is an extraordinary act of ventriloquism: five very different narrative voices tell of their lives on the Stones Estate during an inner-city summer of tension and violence, and the lives of these characters burst from the page in a work of stunning originality and pace that heralds a terrific literary career to come.”

Doughty faced the challenging task of selecting a winner from a stunning shortlist that also included:

  • The Cactus, Sarah Haywood (Two Roads)
  • Silence Under a Stone, Norma MacMaster (Doubleday)
  • The Sealwoman’s Gift, Sally Magnusson (Two Roads)
  • As the Women Lay Dreaming, Donald Murray (Saraband)
  • Testament, Kim Sherwood (Riverrun)

The prize is for the debut novel of a British, Irish or UK-based author, first published in the UK, and there is no age limit. The winning novel is selected by a guest adjudicator from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Lucy Popescu.

The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award

Inaugurated in 1954, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is now in its 65th year, making it the longest-running UK prize for debut fiction and – except for the James Tait Black, the Hawthornden and the Somerset Maugham – the oldest literary prize in England.

Past winners have included Brian Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Nadeem Aslam, Diran Adebayo, Jackie Kay, Susan Fletcher, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp, Kevin Barry, Ros Barber, Carys Bray, Benjamin Johncock and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. Last year’s prize was awarded to Gail Honeyman.

For further info on the award contact: lucyjpop@gmail.com


Shortlist announced for Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2019

Today, the Authors’ Club announces the shortlist for the annual Best First Novel Award. The shortlisted books are as follows:

  • GUY GUNARATNE, In our Mad and Furious City(Tinder Press). The judges commented: This is a state of the nation novel from an impressive new voice. It is distinguished by powerful writing and bold characters that linger in the mind.
  • SARAH HAYWOODThe Cactus (Two Roads). The judges commented: A dazzling story of redemption, of letting go, of confronting the past and deciding to grow beyond it. It’s a page turner, witty with terrific narrative pace.
  • NORMA MacMASTER, Silence Under a Stone(Doubleday). The judges commented: A fascinating novel about the consequences of living with religious bigotry. It’s emotive, beautifully descriptive, full of humanity and a compelling read.
  • SALLY MAGNUSSON, The Sealwoman’s Gift (Two Roads). The judges commented: A moving, elegantly written novel about the 17th century slave raids in Iceland. It contains striking realism and convincing psychological intuition. Enthralling.
  • DONALD S. MURRAY, As The Women Lay Dreaming (Saraband). The judges commented: A haunting, poignant, meticulously researched novel about the 1919 Iolaire ferry disaster and its effect on the local community. An extraordinary piece of storytelling.
  • KIM SHERWOOD, Testament (Riverrun). The judges commented: It is hard to believe that this is a first novel, so assured is it in its ambition, reach, and control. The prose is spare, precise, elliptical and richly evocative.

Lucy Popescu (chair of the judging panel) commented: “Women dominate the shortlist this year. These talented debut novels cover diverse subjects from the Holocaust, 17th century slave raids in Iceland, to a north London estate, with an overarching theme of loss. We are fortunate to have Louise Doughty to decide the overall winner.”

The winning novel is selected by guest adjudicator, Louise Doughty, bestselling author of Apple Tree Yard, from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Lucy Popescu.

Key Dates
Shortlisted authors’ event at Waterstones Gower Street: Thursday 2 May
The winner will be announced by Louise Doughty, at a dinner at the National Liberal Club: Wednesday 22 May

Contact: lucyjpop@gmail.com


Best First Novel Award 2019 Longlist

1.3.19

Today, the Authors’ Club announces the longlist for the annual Best First Novel Award. The longlisted books are as follows:

  • Claire Askew, All the Hidden Truths (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Mary Lynn Bracht, White Chrysanthemum (Chatto & Windus)
  • Laura Carlin, The Wicked Cometh (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Guy Gunaratne, In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press)
  • Sarah Haywood, The Cactus (Two Roads)
  • Caoilinn Hughes, Orchid & the Wasp (Oneworld)
  • Emily Koch, If I Die Before I Wake (Harvill Secker)
  • Norma MacMaster, Silence Under a Stone (Doubleday)
  • Sally Magnusson, The Sealwoman’s Gift (Two Roads)
  • Donald S. Murray, As the Women Lay Dreaming (Saraband)
  • Kim Sherwood, Testament (Riverrun)
  • Stuart Turton, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Raven)

Lucy Popescu (chair of the judging panel) commented: “This year, we’ve had a bumper crop of entries. Women dominate the longlist – one writer, Norma McMaster, is in her 80s. It’s a real privilege to be able to support a diverse list of debut novelists tackling such wide-ranging subjects.”

About the prize

The prize is open to any debut novel written in English and published in the UK between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2018 with one important exception: novels first published in another country of origin will not be considered. The prize of £2500 exists to support UK-based authors, publishers and agents, so the novel must originate in the UK and not have been published anywhere else in the world before its UK publication

Inaugurated in 1954, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is now in its 65th year, making it the longest-running UK prize for debut fiction and – except for the James Tait Black and the Hawthornden – the oldest literary prize in Britain.

Past winners have included Brian Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Nadeem Aslam, Diran Adebayo, Jackie Kay, Susan Fletcher, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp, Kevin Barry, Ros Barber, Hisayo Rowan Buchanan. Last year’s prize was awarded to Gail Honeyman for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

The winning novel is selected by guest adjudicator Louise Doughty from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Lucy Popescu.

Past adjudicators have included A.L. Kennedy, Vikram Seth, Philip Hensher, Amanda Craig, Joanne Harris, Deborah Moggach and, going back further, Kingsley Amis and Compton Mackenzie.

Key dates

  • Shortlist announcement: Thursday 28 March 2019, Essex Book Festival
  • Shortlisted authors event at Waterstones Gower St: Thursday 2 May
  • The Winner will be announced by Louise Doughty, this year’s guest adjudicator at a dinner at the National Liberal Club: Wednesday 22 May

Contact: lucyjpop@gmail.com