The Authors’ Club longlist for its annual Best First Novel Award is as follows:
Yvonne Bailey-Smith, The Day I Fell off My Island (Myriad Editions)
A.K. Blakemore, The Manningtree Witches (Granta Books)
Charlie Carroll, The Lip (Two Roads)
Marianne Cronin, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot (Doubleday)
Tish Delaney, Before My Actual Heart Breaks (Hutchinson Heinemann)
Francesca Haig, The Cookbook of Common Prayer (Allen & Unwin)
Lucy Jago, A Net for Small Fishes (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Catherine Menon, Fragile Monsters (Viking)
Emma Musty, Exile and the Mapmaker (Legend Press)
Melody Razak, Moth (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
JR Thorp, Learwife (Canongate)
Lucy Popescu (chair of the judging panel) commented: “We are delighted to announce our longlist of exceptional debut novelists who cover an array of subjects from bereavement and memory, betrayal and isolation to resilience and hope, as well as celebrating intergenerational friendships and the importance of community. We visit England’s past, present and future and travel across the world from Northern Ireland to Malaysia, India to Jamaica, Tasmania to the Arctic Circle.”
Shortlist announcement: 25 March
The winner will be announced at a dinner at the National Liberal Club: Wednesday 25 May
About the Prize:
The winning novel is selected by guest adjudicator Alex Wheatle 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 2021. 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 68th 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, Gail Honeyman, Guy Gunaratne and Claire Adam. Last year’s prize was awarded to Ingrid Persaud.
Past adjudicators have included Andrew Miller, Louise Doughty, AL Kennedy, Vikram Seth, Philip Hensher, Joanne Harris, Deborah Moggach and, going back further, Kingsley Amis and Compton Mackenzie.
Established by Walter Besant in 1891, the Club has provided a social meeting place for writers for over 130 years.