The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015 longlist

From The Guardian:

Two of the year’s unexpected bestsellers – Emma Healey’s mystery of an elderly woman with dementia, Elizabeth is Missing, and Jessie Burton’s portrait of 17th-century Amsterdam, The Miniaturist – go head to head on the longlist for the Desmond Elliott prize for the year’s best first novel.

Judges have announced 10 titles on a longlist praised by the chair, novelist Louise Doughty, for “the breadth of the books, in terms of subject matter and style, but also the level of attention the books have received so far”.

“Two of our titles are already acclaimed bestsellers, others have received critical attention – and some are names that are either published very recently or haven’t yet had their moment in the spotlight,” the author said. “It’s incredibly thrilling to have such a disparate list to choose from and the field is wide open.”

Healey and Burton’s major sellers are up against Paul Kingsnorth’s crowd-funded The Wake, set after the Battle of Hastings and already longlisted for last year’s Booker, Laline Paull’s tale of a bee born into the lowest class of her society, The Bees, and James Hannah’s The A to Z of You and Me, which takes the tiny canvas of a young man lying in a hospice bed to create what judges described as “a novel of universal resonance”.

The £10,000 Desmond Elliott, named for the late publisher and literary agent, was won last year by Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, which was originally published by tiny independent press Galley Beggar. The publisher has another title on this year’s longlist: Randall by Jonathan Gibbs, which imagines an alternate art world where Damien Hirst died in 1989 to be replaced by the genius and provocateur Randall. “More than mischievous satire, Randall freeze-frames for private censure that commercial merry-go-round, the contemporary art market,” said Doughty and her fellow judges.

Also longlisted for the award are Simon Wroe’s Chop Chop, set in a Camden gastro-pub, Alex Christofi’s Glass, in which the protagonist is asked to clean London’s Shard, and Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days, which sees a survivalist father take his young daughter to a remote cabin and tell her the world has disappeared.

The line-up for the award is completed with Carys Bray’s A Song for Issy Bradley, which charts the implosion of a Mormon family after the death of a young girl. “Wit flashes in a score of brilliant one-liners, points up the sotto-voce comedy of this song otherwise sad beyond tears,” said judges.

Dallas Manderson, chairman of the Desmond Elliott prize’s trustees, said it had been a “remarkable 12 months for debut fiction both in terms of sales and literary achievement”. The winner of the award will be announced on 1 July.

The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015 longlist

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah (Doubleday)
The Bees by Laline Paull (Fourth Estate)
Chop Chop by Simon Wroe (Viking)
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (Viking)
Glass by Alex Christofi (Serpent’s Tail)
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador)
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (Fig Tree)
Randall by Jonathan Gibbs (Galley Beggar Press)
A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (Hutchinson)
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)

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