The Desmond Elliott Prize
Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 Winner: We That Are Young by Preti Taneja
It’s with great pleasure we confirm Preti Taneja’s thrilling epic, We That Are Young, as the winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018. Launched in 2007, The Desmond Elliott Prize has quickly become established as the premier prize for new fiction and has been instrumental in launching the careers of authors including Lisa McInerney, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride.
A spellbinding novel of family, power, corruption and desire, We That Are Young breathtakingly reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear for present-day India. Both timeless and vividly insightful, as the Guardian comments, ‘Taneja has given us that rarest of beasts, a page-turner that’s also unabashedly political – with the complex, ambiguous, fiercely felt politics of our time’. Told through multiple voices and spanning the country from the urban sprawl of New Delhi to the fractured Kashmiri city of Srinagar, We That Are Young is an extraordinary, intoxicating debut from a brilliant new voice in British fiction.
Another writer from the Guardian stable, Paula Cocozza transforms the everyday vision of an urban fox in a woman’s garden into a deeply compelling tale of obsession. For Mary – recently separated from her partner – her vulpine visitor becomes far more than a feral beast, as the lines between reality and fantasy blur and the fox attains a central role in her life. But what of Mark, her ex, who now seems transformed himself, or her neighbour Michelle, who fears the fox may take her child? Lives ultimately unspool in Cocozza’s accomplished suburban mythology.
Already scoring the Costa First Novel Award, Gail Honeyman blends laugh-out-loud funny with sudden unexpected pathos for one of the strongest debuts we’ve seen in years. Eleanor Oliphant – a woman who lives and sees life very much by her own rules – simply leaps from the page as a character to be understood and admired. Neatly sidestepping cliché for a very real story of a life beginning to be lived, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine has proved to be a powerful favourite amongst booksellers and our customers alike.
Human rights reporter and fellow at Warwick University Preti Taneja alights on the principle themes of King Lear and reworks them into an ambitious tale of skulduggery and lavish ambition, set against the riches of a vast multinational based in Delhi. The ageing Devraj is stepping down, exposing a power-vacuum amongst his four ruthless children and Devraj’s right-hand advisor, Ranjit. This is very much India of the modern world, where the reach of the company transcends any nationhood and the stakes force his family to ever greater excess to secure what they see as rightfully, brutally, theirs. ‘Even with the knowledge of its Shakespearean twists,’ wrote Karthik Shankar in The Hindu, ‘you are stunned into silence by it.’
Previous Prize Winners