Best First Novel Award

Best First Novel Award 2015 Shortlist Announced

11/5/15

The shortlist for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award 2015 is as follows:

  • The Letter Bearer by Robert Allison (Granta)
  • A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (Hutchinson)
  • The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman (Weidenfeld)
  • Ishmael’s Oranges by Claire Hajaj (Oneworld)
  • Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Penguin)
  • The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer (Sphere)

The chair of judges, Suzi Feay, comments: ‘When reducing the longlist to the shortlist, we have only one criterion in mind: literary quality. As the shortlist is then handed over to a guest adjudicator to make the final choice, we have to make sure that every one of our selections is a potential winner. This year’s list includes one novel, Elizabeth Is Missing, that has already been an immense success, but the others are no less worthy of a huge readership. From the deserts of North Africa in World War Two to the bloody world of 18th century prize-fighting, from the decaying dreams of an ageing modernist architect to the compulsions and convictions of a woman with dementia, from a forbidden love affair set against the background of the Middle East, to the sweet/sour account of life in a Lancashire Mormon family, all these novels are compulsively readable, the work of six born storytellers.’

The winner will be announced – and the £2,500 prize awarded – by this year’s guest adjudicator, the novelist and memoirist Susie Boyt, at a reception at the National Liberal Club on Wednesday 17 June.

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Best First Novel Award 2015 Long List Announced

25/4/15

We are delighted to announce the long list for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2015. The 12 books were selected from a record number of more than 60 submissions by a panel of Club members after intense and wide-ranging debate.

  • The Letter Bearer by Robert Allison (Granta)
  • A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (Hutchinson)
  • The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador)
  • Academy Street by Mary Costello (Canongate)
  • The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson (Little, Brown)
  • The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman (Weidenfeld)
  • Ishmael’s Oranges by Claire Hajj (Oneworld)
  • Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Penguin)
  • The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer (Sphere)
  • In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman (Picador)
  • Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny (John Murray)

 

The shortlist will be made public in May, and the shorted authors will read from their work at Foyles bookshop, 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT, on Wednesday 27 May.

The winner will be announced – and the £2,500 prize awarded – by this year’s guest adjudicator, the writer Susie Boyt, at a reception on Wednesday 17 June at the National Liberal Club in London.

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Jack Wolf wins Authors’ Club Best First Novel

3.6.14

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Shortlisted authors (from left) Gavin Extence, Jack Wolf, Kevin Maher,
Anthea Nicholson and Lucy Cruickshanks

The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award has been won by Jack Wolf for his astonishing debut The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones. The prize was adjudicated by the novelist Isabel Wolff, who announced the winner and presented the cheque for £2,500 at a reception at the National Liberal Club in London on Tuesday 3 June.

“It was a privilege to be asked to judge this prestigious award,” said Isabel Wolff,  “and a great pleasure to read the six shortlisted titles: Lucy Cruickshanks’ searing portrayal of post-war Vietnam in The Trader of Saigon; Gavin Extence’s touching coming of age story The Universe Versus Alex Woods; Kevin Maher’s exhilaratingly funny, dark, tale of growing up in rural Ireland, The Fields; Eimear McBride’s extraordinary, transfiguring A Girl is a Half Formed Thing; and The Banner of the Passing Cloud, Anthea Nicholson’s beautifully written novel about life in post-Stalin Georgia.

“But in the end it was Jack Wolf’s astonishing debut that really stood out. The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones is an extraordinary novel that explores the 18th-century tension between reason and emotion, science and superstition, in an absolutely masterful way. It’s both thrillingly erudite and infectiously entertaining, completely compelling and morally unsettling. The voice never falters, and the execution is masterful. What a marvellous book – a tour de force.”

Jack Wolf added: “I was thrilled to win the Authors Club Best First Novel Award last night, and to hear my work praised so highly by Isabel Wolff. The award is a tremendously affirming and encouraging prize to win, as the way in which novels are long and shortlisted is entirely transparent and reflective of both novelistic excellence and readers’ enjoyment. I now can’t wait to read the other shortlisted novels.”
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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.

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We are delighted to announce the longlist for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2014. The 12 books were selected from a record number of more than 60 submissions by a panel of Club members after intense and wide-ranging debate.

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

The shortlist will be made public on Friday 25 April, and the winner will be announced – and the £2,500 prize awarded – by this year’s guest adjudicator, the novelist Isabel Wolff, at a reception on Tuesday 3 June at the National Liberal Club in London.

Read the Chair of Judges Suzi Feay’s blog: http://www.acepage.ca/suzifeay/

About the Prize

The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award was inaugurated in 1954 and past winners have included Brian Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Naseem Aslam, Diran Adebayo, Jackie Kay, Susan Fletcher, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp and most recently Kevin Barry.

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 Joanne Harris, Amanda Craig, Philip Hensher and DJ Taylor.

2014 BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD
The 2014 prize is open to any debut novel written in English and published in the UK between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2013 with one important exception: novels first published in another country of origin will NOT be considered.

The prize 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 pub date.

There’s no age limit, the authors don’t have to be British, and they can have published other books before, as long as this is their first novel.

All imprints may submit TWO titles. Please send TWO copies of EACH title by 1 September 2013 to Suzi Feay, The Authors’ Club, c/o The National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place, SW1A 3HE. Please mark packages ‘BFNA’ and in addition SEND ME A CONFIRMATION EMAIL (suzifeay@aol.com) with details of the titles you are submitting. (For books published after 1 September, please advise us of the titles by the submission date and submit as soon as possible.)  It would also be helpful to be told if you have any other eligible titles, as we are happy to call in titles of interest.

The rough timeline for the award is as follows:

Longlist: end March 2014

Shortlist: end April 2014

Prizegiving: 3 June 2014

 

 

Double win for Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award

BFNA 030Above: Salley Vickers (left) with Ros Barber and Dan Franklin, representing I. J. Kay

The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award has been won jointly by Ros Barber for The Marlowe Papers and I. J. Kay for Mountains of the Moon. The prize was adjudicated by the novelist Salley Vickers, who announced the winners and presented two cheques for £1,250 each at a ceremony at the National Liberal Club in London on Monday 3 June.

The judging panel, chaired by literary critic Suzi Feay, had negotiated the longlist down to six titles, and there was great suspense as Vickers praised each book, reading extracts every one.

Both the winning novels are challenging, and Vickers said they were ‘the two books I was most convinced I would not like at first – but both overcame my prejudices.’

Ros Barber’s The Marlowe Papers, also shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, is written in Marlovian verse throughout, and tells, from the playwright’s perspective, how his death in Deptford was faked. ‘I’ve not read anything so original since Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate,’ Vickers commented.

In I. J. Kay’s Mountains of the Moon, a young woman, recently released from prison, attempts to piece together the fragments of her life. Vickers compared the book’s power and distinctive voice to J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, remarking that its protagonist Louise has a ‘Holden Caulfield-like quality – highly intelligent and very damaged’.

Accepting the prize on behalf of I. J. Kay, Dan Franklin of Jonathan Cape admitted that he had had some misgivings about taking on an author who insisted that she would not appear in public even if she won the Booker, but that the quality of the book was so outstanding that he knew he had to publish it.

The double award is not unprecedented – in 2004, Deborah Moggach, as guest adjudicator, awarded the prize jointly to Susan Fletcher for Eve Green and Neill Griffiths for Betrayal in Naples.

The full shortlist consisted of:

  • The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (Sceptre)
  • Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson (Chatto)
  • Mountains of the Moon by I J Kay (Cape)
  • Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard (Hutchinson)
  • The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd (Simon & Schuster)

 

Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2013

BFNA2013

We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2013. The six books were selected by a panel of Club members after intense and wide-ranging debate.

“The more unanimity in a longlist,” commented the chair of judges, literary critic Suzi Feay, “the fiercer the fighting will be with the shortlist – over titles which we had already agreed are wonderful books…  It’s less trouble electing a new Pope.”

The shortlisted titles are:

  • The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (Sceptre)
  • Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson (Chatto)
  • Mountains of the Moon by I J Kay (Cape)
  • Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard (Hutchinson)
  • The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd (Simon & Schuster)

The six books were chosen, after intense and wide-ranging debate, from an exceptionally strong longlist, which included such outstanding contenders as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Elanor Dymott, Alys, Always by Harriet Lane, The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan, A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson and Ramshackle by Elizabeth Reeder.

There will be a reading from the shortlisted novels by their authors at Foyle’s bookshop, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EB, on Wednesday 15 May.

The winner will be announced and the £2500 prize presented at a reception at the National Liberal Club on Monday 3 June by this year’s guest adjudicator, the acclaimed novelist Salley Vickers.

Longlist 2013

  • The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (Sceptre)
  • Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Elanor Dymott (Cape)
  • The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (William Heinemann)
  • Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic)
  • Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson (Chatto)
  • A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson (Bloomsbury)
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
  • Mountains of the Moon by I J Kay (Cape)
  • Alys, Always by Harriet Lane (Weidenfeld)
  • Ramshackle by Elizabeth Reeder (Freight Books)
  • Seldom Seen by Sarah Ridgard (Hutchinson)
  • The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd (Simon & Schuster)

The shortlist will be announced next week.
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 include Kevin Barry for City of Bohane (2012), Jonathan Kemp for London Triptych (2011) and Anthony Quinn for The Rescue Man (2010).

Shortlist Reading
15 May 2013: The Gallery at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, 6.30-8.30pm
Enjoy a glass of wine and hear the six shortlisted authors (tbc) read from their debut novels and talk about their work to BFNA Chair Suzi Feay.
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Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2012

Kevin Barry wins Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award

The Irish author Kevin Barry has won the 59th Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award for City of Bohane (Cape). This tale of gang warfare in a ramshackle Irish coastal city in the near future is part West Side Story and part The Wire. City of Bohane is a linguistic tour-de-force of brilliant dialogue and atmospheric description.

The prize was adjudicated by the novelist and critic DJ Taylor, who presented the winner with a cheque for £2,500 at a ceremony at the National Liberal Club in London on Wednesday 6 June.

Taylor remarked on the difficulty of choosing one book from such an exceptionally strong shortlist, which included Clare Morgan’s A Book for All and None, The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness, Leela’s Book by Alice Albinia and Padrika Tarrant’s The Knife Drawer.

The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is presented to the most promising debut novel issued by a British publisher in the previous year. This year’s shortlist was selected by a panel of Club members, chaired by the literary critic Suzi Feay, after intense and wide-ranging debate, from an exceptionally strong longlist. The winner will be announced  on Wednesday 6 June by this year’s guest adjudicator,  the novelist, biographer and critic DJ Taylor.

The shortlisted books are:

  • Leela’s Book by Alice Albinia (Harvill Secker)
    City of Bohane by Kevin Barry (Vintage)
    The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness (Seren)
    A Book for All and None by Clare Morgan (Weidenfeld)
    The Knife Drawer by Padrika Tarrant (Salt)

Shortlist reading
The Gallery, Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB
Wednesday 16 May, 6.30pm
In the near future, the denizens of an eerily cut-off Irish city tool up for gang warfare; two scholars fall in love, and uncover an extraordinary secret linking Nietzsche with Virginia Woolf; the god Ganesh narrates the story of a turbulent family in teeming New Delhi; the mice are looking for their god and the knives in the dining room come to life in a magical and sinister tale; and a young British academic is drawn into a shady underworld of dissidents and people-smugglers in Ceausescu’s dying dictatorship.
Members are invited to come and hear the shortlisted authors for this year’s Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award read from their work and take part in a discussion with literary critic and chair of judges Suzi Feay.

Award ceremony
Wednesday 6 June, 6.30–8.30pm, The Lady Violet Room, National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HE
The winner of the 2012 award will be announced and the £2500 prize presented at a reception at the National Liberal Club on Wednesday 6 June 2012 by this year’s guest adjudicator,  the novelist, biographer and critic DJ Taylor, author of Bright Young People, Ask Alice and the Man Booker longlisted Derby Day.

The annual Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is presented to the most promising debut novel first published in Britain during the previous year (UK editions of books first published elsewhere are not eligible). The shortlist is selected by a panel of Club members, from which the winner is chosen by a guest adjudicator, usually an established writer of note. Recent adjudicators have included Joanne Harris, Amanda Craig, Philip Hensher, Carmen Callil, Andrew O’Hagan, Vikram Seth and Deborah Moggach.

From its establishment in 1955, the prize has consistently picked out novelists who have gone on to have long and distinguished careers. Early winners included Brian Moore for The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne and Alan Sillitoe for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning; other winners have included Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Jackie Kay, Lindsey Davis and Diran Adebayo.

In recent years, the award has gone to Jonathan Kemp for London Triptych, Anthony Quinn for The Rescue Man, Laura Beatty for Pollard (2009), Segun Afolabi forGoodbye Lucille (2008), Nicola Monaghan for The Killing Jar (2007) and Henry Shukman for Sandstorm (2006).