His novel In Our Mad and Furious City heralds a 'terrific literary career to come'
The guest adjudicator, Louise Doughty, presented the £2,500 award at a reception at the National Liberal Club in London yesterday. She said: "Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City [Tinder Press] is an extraordinary act of ventriloquism: five very different narrative voices tell of their lives on the Stones Estate during an inner-city summer of tension and violence, and the lives of these characters burst from the page in a work of stunning originality and pace that heralds a terrific literary career to come." The book was longlisted for the Man Booker last year.
Doughty picked the winner from a shortlist that also included:
The Cactus, Sarah Haywood (Two Roads)
Silence Under a Stone, Norma MacMaster (Doubleday)
The Sealwoman’s Gift, Sally Magnusson (Two Roads)
As the Women Lay Dreaming, Donald Murray (Saraband)
Testament, Kim Sherwood (Riverrun)
The prize is for the debut novel of a British, Irish or UK-based author, first published in the UK, and there is no age limit. The winning novel is selected by a guest adjudicator from a shortlist drawn up by a panel of Authors’ Club members, chaired by Lucy Popescu.
Inaugurated in 1954, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award is now in its 65th year, making it the longest-running UK prize for debut fiction and – except for the James Tait Black and the Hawthornden – the oldest literary prize in Britain.
Past winners have included Brian Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Paul Bailey, Gilbert Adair, Nadeem Aslam, Diran Adebayo, Jackie Kay, Susan Fletcher, Nicola Monaghan, Laura Beatty, Anthony Quinn, Jonathan Kemp, Kevin Barry, Ros Barber, Carys Bray, Benjamin Johncock and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. Last year’s prize went to Gail Honeyman.
Pictured: Guy Gunaratne