The Desmond Elliott Prize is a new biennial prize for a first novel written in English and published in the UK. Worth £10,000 to the winner, the prize is named after the literary agent and publisher, Desmond Elliott.

Charismatic, witty, and waspish, Elliott lived his life with sparkle. He drank only champagne, always crossed the Atlantic on Concorde and lunched at Fortnum and Mason. His office was in Mayfair and he had houses in St James’s and on Park Avenue. Desmond Elliott’s ethos to support new writers will live on in the shape of the prize.

When choosing the winner, a panel of 3 judges will look for a novel which creates a “buzz”, a book with “word of mouth” appeal. In addition, the judges will look for the following qualities:

* a novel which is a page-turner but which makes you pause for thought
* an intelligent book with broad appeal

2008 Winner Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)gifted_book_cover

Nikita Lalwani was named the inaugural 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, commented,

“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.”

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.

2008 Shortlist Desmond Eliot Prize

* Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)- Winner
* Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)
* Sunday at the Cross Bones by John Walsh (Fourth Estate)

Gifted by Nikita Lalwani

Viking 28 June 2007 h/b- ISBN: 9780670917075

Rumi Vashey is ten years, two months, thirteen days, two hours, forty-two minutes and six seconds old. The probability of her walking home from school with John Kemble is 0.2142, a probability severely reduced by the lacy frock and thick woollen tights she is forced to wear by her father. For Rumi is a gifted child and, as her father sees it, discipline is everyth

child_44_book_coverChild 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Simon & Schuster 3 March 2008 h/b- ISBN: 9781847371263

The Soviet Union, 1953. Stalin’s iron grip is at its tightest, enforced by the Ministry of State Security – a secret police force whose brutality is no secret at all. Under its regime, people are commanded to believe that crime simply does not exist. But when the body of a young boy is discovered on train tracks in Moscow, Officer Leo Demidov – a war hero utterly dedicated to the Ministry – is surprised to hear that the boy’s family is convinced it was murder.

Sunday At The Cross Bones by John Walsh
Fourth Estate 1 May 2007 pbsunday_at_the_cross-book_cover

ISBN: 9780007139323

It's 1930, and the streets of London are teeming with homeless, money-grubbing men and women washed up in the wake of the General Strike. The bars and cafes are full of seedy chancers and girls who will forget their mothers' warnings for the price of a mutton-chop supper. Through this moral wasteland strides Harold Davidson, clergyman, prototypical social worker, impulsive saver of souls.

Other Longlisted 2008

Broken by Daniel Clay

Harper Press 3 March 2008 pb

ISBN: 9780007270132

Part narrated by Skunk Cunningham, an eleven-year-old girl in a coma, Broken. A Novel tells the intertwining stories of three families who live in a suburban square in the south of England. The Oswalds – Bob and his five daughters – are the neighbours from hell. They lie, steal, cheat, bully and intimidate anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near them, including Rick Buckley, a geeky but harmless nineteen-year-old boy who lives with his mum and dad on the other side of the square.

Submarine by Joe Dunthorne

Hamish Hamilton 7 February 2008 h/b

ISBN: 9780241143964

Hello, I’m Oliver Tate, the protagonist. I’m likely to use words like protagonist and, moments later, words like twonk. My ambitions are as follows: to find out why my father sometimes stays in bed for days at a time; to find out why my mother’s getting surfing lessons – and probably more – from a hippy-looking twonk; and to lose my virginity before it becomes legal – in just over a year.

The Truth About These Strange Times by Adam Foulds

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 12 July 2007 h/b

ISBN: 978297852735

Saul Dawson-Smith can memorise the sequence of a shuffled deck of cards in under a minute; he can recite pi to a thousand decimal places and he remembers every conversation he’s ever had. He is ten years old. Howard McNamee is twenty-eight: lonely, overweight and poorly educated. He lives alone in the north of England in the home he shared with his mother and far from the scene of his difficult Glasgow childhood.

The Outcast by Sadie Jones

Chatto & Windus 7 February 2008 h/b

ISBN: 9780701181758

The Outcast is about a boy called Lewis - his childhood and adolescence – as he grows up in the stultifying world of the home counties in the late forties and fifties. It is an everyday tale of drunkenness, violence and a fair amount of sex, set amongst the well-brought-up professional classes. It is also a love story. Sadie Jones was born in London. Her father is the Jamaican poet and screenwriter Evan Jones, and her mother was an actress.

ing if the family is to have any hope of making its mark on its adoptive country.

Kill Your Friends by John Niven

William Heinemann 7 February 2007 pb

ISBN: 9780434017997

It's not dog-eat-dog around's dog-gang-rapes, dog then tortures him for five days before burying him alive and taking out every motherfucker the dog has ever known. Meet Steven Stelfox in London 1997, where New Labour is sweeping into power and Britpop is at its zenith. Twenty-seven-year-old A&R man Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through the music industry, a world where 'no one knows anything' and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public - 'Yeah, those animals'.

Gods Behaving Badly

Jonathan Cape 2 August 2007

ISBN: 0224081314

Being immortal isn't all it's cracked up to be. Life's hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn't respect you, and you're stuck in a dilapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there's no way out...Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
Random Acts of Heroic Love bookcover
Doubleday 1 August 2007 h/b

ISBN: 9780385612616

1992: Leo Deakin wakes up in a hospital somewhere in South America. His girlfriend Eleni is dead and Leo doesn’t know where he is or how she died. He blames himself for the tragedy and is sucked into a spiral of despair. But Leo is about to discover something that will change his life for ever. 1917: Moritz Daniecki is a fugitive from a Siberian POW camp. Seven thousand kilometres separate him from his village and his sweetheart, whose memory has kept him alive through carnage and captivity.

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

Bloomsbury 6 August 2007 pb

ISBN: 9780747583516

Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched and untroubled by the modern world. When the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police – governed more by archaic rules of honour than by the law – are quick to close the case, dismissing the death as an accident. Then a stranger arrives, uninvited from Athens, announcing his intention to look into the crime he believes has been committed.

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