Monday 16 October 2017

First novel by Francis Spufford scoops £10,000 Desmond Elliott prize

Francis Spufford has already won the Costa First Novel award and the Ondaatje Prize

Francis Spufford ( John Stillwell/PA)
Francis Spufford ( John Stillwell/PA)

By Julia Hunt

Author Francis Spufford has won the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017 for his first novel.

Golden Hill beat a shortlist which also featured My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal and Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan to claim the £10,000 award for the best debut novel.

Spufford, 53, has already won the Costa First Novel award and the Ondaatje Prize.

Set in New York in 1746, when the now-famous sprawling metropolis was just a small town on the tip of Manhattan island, Golden Hill tells the story of Mr Smith – a mysterious young man who steps off a boat from England with an order for an enormous sum of money.

Chair of the judges Sam Leith, literary editor at the Spectator, said the book was “miraculously constructed… at once so fabulously entertaining, so exquisitely wrought and so moving that it stands among not just the best first novels of the year, but the best novels of this or any year”.

Spufford is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

He is the author of five works of non-fiction on a range of topics from religion and history, to literature and politics – and was awarded the 1996 Writer’s Guild Award for best non-fiction book and the 1997 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Golden Hill marks his first venture into fiction.

— DesmondElliottPrize (@DElliottPrize) June 8, 2017

The prize is presented in the name of late publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott.

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