Nikita Lalwani was tonight (Thursday, 26th June) named the winner of the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for Gifted, a story about a maths prodigy growing up in 1980s Cardiff, published by Penguin Books.
Penny Vincenzi, Chair of the Judges, said:
“Gifted is a book of extraordinary range; it is touching, tender, funny and at the same time truly compelling. It covers the issues of duty and family loyalty, and the demands of an extraordinary talent, while holding at its heart the story of a young girl struggling with the agony of first love and her own, very particular, identity. Above all, it has a wonderfully bittersweet charm and for that reason Desmond Elliott would have loved it.”
The Desmond Elliott Prize is a new prize for first novels designed to reward “a sparkling good read”, a book which is both profound and has wide appeal.
Nikita Lalwani was born in Kota, Rajasthan in 1973 and raised in Cardiff. Gifted is her first novel and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007 and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2007and the Glen Dimplex Fiction Award 2007.
A child prodigy, Nikita wanted to take her maths O-level early but was dissuaded by her father. She initially studied medicine at Oxford University but left after her first year, realising that it wasn’t a career she wished to pursue. She then read English at Bristol University and continued on to a post-graduate degree in journalism and creative writing.
Gifted was written in 18 months and Nikita received responses from potential agents within two days of looking. The Bookseller cited the book as “one of the most coveted British fiction debuts of the year”. Nikita lives in London with her husband and child.