Best First Novel Award

Best First Novel Award 2019 Longlist


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