Former commissioning editor of ELLE Magazine India, Anjali Joseph has been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize alongside Dazed & Confused writer Ned Beauman and unemployed civil servant Stephen Kelman. Both Beauman and Joseph had been working as journalists when they wrote their first novels, whereas Kelman had just been made redundant from his job as a civil servant when he was snapped up by publisher Bloomsbury.
The Desmond Elliott Prize 2011 shortlist is as follows:
- Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman (Sceptre)
- Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury)
- Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate)
Edward Stourton on behalf of the judges, comments:
“In a strong field these three books stood out for very different reasons; one is startlingly original and written with compelling energy, one is subtle, complex and finely-woven, and one a remarkable imaginative achievement that deals with a difficult subject. Anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction should read them all.”
Joseph has been backed by the bookies favourite to win the prize. William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe commented, “All three would be worthy winners – an old racing saying advises ‘always back the outsider in a three horse race’ – and I will not be surprised whichever author comes out on top.”
When choosing a winner, the judges will be looking for a novel of depth and breadth with a compelling narrative. The work should be vividly written and confidently realised and should contain original and arresting characters. Entries have been considered from all fiction genres.
The Prize was inaugurated in honour of publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, one of the most charismatic and successful men in this field, who died in August 2003. He stipulated that his estate should be invested in a charitable trust that would fund a literary award “to enrich the careers of new writers”. Worth £10,000 to the winner, the Prize is intended to support new writers and to celebrate their fiction.
The winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011 will be announced on Thursday 23 June at Fortnum & Mason, Desmond’s ‘local grocer’, in London.