Shortlist Desmond Elliot Prize Announced


A story of love and loss in Bombay by a former commissioning editor of Elle India has been narrowly installed as the favourite to win a £10,000 literary award for debut novels. Anjali Joseph, who was born in Bombay, was this morning shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot prize for her novel Saraswati Park alongside fellow journalist Ned Beauman’s first novel Boxer, Beetle and former civil servant Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English.

Joseph’s novel Saraswati Park tells of Mohan, a middle-aged letter writer with a passion for secondhand books, his wife Lakshmi and their nephew Ashish, a sexually uncertain 19-year-old who comes to live with them. The book, which Joseph has described as “a Bombay novel of misplaced dreams, recovered love, and quiet moments of beauty amid a vibrant city”, is William Hill’s frontrunner to take the prize, with odds of 6/4 to win.

Kelman, who was made redundant from a job in local government administration a year ago, comes in second with odds of 7/4. His novel, Pigeon English, is loosely based on the murder of Damilola Taylor in Peckham, telling the story of the Ghanaian schoolboy Harrison Opoku, who has just arrived in England.

The final contender for this year’s award, Boxer, Beetle, follows the travails of Kevin Bloom, a collector of Nazi memorabilia and trimethylaminuria sufferer, on the trail of a mysterious letter from Hitler.

The prize was established in the name of publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, who died in August 2003, stipulating that his estate should fund an award “to enrich the careers of new writers”. This year’s winner will be announced on 23 June.

Read full article @ the Guardian

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~ by eneryvibes on 1,May 27, 2011.

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