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Best First Novel Award

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).

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