The Desmond Elliot Prize 2013 shortlist announced

The annual Desmond Elliott Prize, which celebrates and champions the very best in debut fiction, has today (Thursday 23 May 2013) announced a shortlist of three novels, including The Marlowe Papers, a story written entirely in verse. An ambitious undertaking for a new novelist, it focuses on the enduring mystery of Christopher Marlowes untimely death.

The 2013 shortlist was selected from a longlist of ten novels by a panel of judges chaired by best-selling novelist, Joanne Harris, who said: What is so startling about this shortlist is that here we have three first-time novelists ambitiously pushing the boundaries of style and form, with the confidence of authors much later into their careers: Gavin Extences debut is precisely plotted and has an audaciously realised circular narrative; the use of verse in The Marlowe Papers is brave and innovative; and Jenni Fagans use of the Scottish vernacular in The Panopticon is original and assured. If this is the benchmark for debut novels today the future of UK and Irish literature is in safe hands.

The Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 shortlist in full (in alphabetical order by author):

  • The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (Sceptre)
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (William Heinemann)

The protagonists of all three titles play out their lives at the margins of society: the extraordinary accident which befalls ten-yearold Alex precipitates a whole series of life-changing events in The Universe Versus Alex Woods; in The Panopticon, Anais Hendricks is banished to a young offender institute of the most intimidating kind; and Christopher Marlowe re-tells the shocking story of his death and subsequent exile in The Marlowe Papers.

Miriam Robinson, fellow judge and Head of Marketing at Foyles Bookshop, said: We are incredibly pleased with this shortlist, and feel that this diverse selection offers a hint at today’s thriving and multi-faceted literary scene. All three writers have the imagination and technical ability to build on the considerable potential that The Desmond Elliott Prize prides itself in recognising.’