Best-selling and award-winning author Louise Doughty will chair this year’s judging panel for The Desmond Elliott Prize, the “most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (the Telegraph) in the UK and Ireland. Doughty will be joined by writer and comedian Viv Groskop and Foyles bookseller Jonathan Ruppin to find the debut novel of the year.
Doughty is the latest in a line of celebrated writers to act as chair for the Prize, following Chris Cleave in 2014 and Joanne Harris in 2013. Her own debut, Crazy Paving, was published in 1995 and was shortlisted for four awards.
Doughty said: “The Desmond Elliott Prize is one of the most important prizes on the UK literary scene and I’m delighted to be chairing the panel for 2015. When I published my first novel, almost exactly 20 years ago, awards for debuts were one of the vital ways in which a new writer could get noticed.
“Since then, review space in newspapers has shrunk, advances have nose-dived and three out of the four prizes my first book was shortlisted for no longer exist. The advent of The Desmond Elliott Prize in 2007 was a welcome reversal to this trend and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.”
Now in its eighth year, the award has an established record for spotting up-and-coming novelists and propelling them to greater recognition and success. 2014’s winner was Eimear McBride, author of the multi-award-winning and critically lauded A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. Other past winners include Grace McCleen, Anjali Joseph, Edward Hogan, and Ali Shaw.
The Prize is presented in the name of the late acclaimed publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, whose passion for finding and nurturing new authors is perpetuated by his Prize. The judges will be looking for novels that have a compelling narrative and arresting characters, that are vividly written and confidently realised.
Chairman of the Prize Trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “We are immensely proud to announce our judges for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2015. I know that Desmond would have been thrilled to have three such highly regarded judges. It is with great anticipation that we wait to find out which author they select to join our fine list of winners.”
A longlist of ten books will be announced in April and a shortlist in May. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 1 July 2015, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.