This year, I am rather excited to be part of Dan’s (@utterbiblio) shadow judging panel for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Along with David, Zoe, El, and of course Dan himself, we’re reading, discussing and judging the nominated books – making the longlist into a shortlist and finally coming up with a winner. There’s more about our plans and us on Dan’s blog here.
The list is varied and beautifully gender balanced! It’s interesting for me to think about this prize for debut fiction. It is making me consider not only what else I have read in the last year that would make my own longlist but also what I value in a story, and whether that is different for a debut novel. The way prizes are divided up into genres is also making me think about how little that actually occurs to me when I reach for a book – the bookseller in me is aware that I’m reading a kids’/fantasy/historical/translated/debut but the reader in me approaches them with the same desire to find a connection. That said, I love the excitement of the new, the buzz a debut can provoke, the thrill of not knowing what you’re going to find between the covers…
I’d read three of the longlist before it was announced, and thanks to the lovely long weekend I have read another two and half since. I read The Miniaturist, A Song for Issy Bradley, and Elizabeth is Missing last year. This weekend I have read Chop Chop, The Bees, and half of Our Endless Numbered Days.
Everything I have read has stimulated me in some way or another. Whether I’ve read my winner yet remains to be seen.
I aim to write something about all of the books over the next six weeks, before the shortlist is announced, and I can’t wait to start discussing them with my fellow shadow judges. To the books!