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Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist unveiled

24th May 2012

The shortlist for the 2012 Desmond Elliott Prize for New Fiction, which recognises the finest emerging authors in the literary world, has been announced.

Three debut novelists are in contention to win the award, which was inaugurated four years ago in memory of the late publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott in order to celebrate and foster new literary talent.

This year's shortlist includes The Last Hundred Days by poet and academic Patrick McGuinness, a book inspired by his time spent in Bucharest in the run-up to the Romanian revolution.

It will go up against The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by playwright Rachel Joyce, whose book was originally drafted as a radio play for her father, and The Land Of Decoration by Grace McCleen, a novel inspired by the author's Christian fundamentalist upbringing in Wales.

Sam Llewellyn, chair of the judges and a former protégé of Desmond Elliott, said that whittling down the ten-strong longlist to three titles was an 'extraordinarily hard' task.

'Desmond Elliott once told me that his ideal novel was a cross between a treasure hunt and a race. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is both these things, and a lot more besides,' he explained.

'The Last Hundred Days, written with wit and irony, is a really fine and original addition to the literature of disintegrating empires, and The Land of Decoration is unlike anything you've ever read – a rollercoaster of a book that makes the reader laugh and cry at entirely unpredictable intervals.'

Llewellyn and his fellow judges, The Times Review editor Tom Gatti and book buyer Caroline Mileham, now have until June 28th to decide who will receive the GBP 10,000 prize.

The winner will be presented with the award at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason in London, which was Elliott's local grocer, and will follow in the footsteps of 2011 recipient Anjali Joseph, who triumphed with Saraswati Park.

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