The Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2023 Winner
It is our enormous pleasure to reveal Alice Winn’s In Memoriam as the winner of the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2023.
From the moment early reading copies of In Memoriam arrived, our booksellers were captivated by the assured storytelling that permeates every page of Alice Winn’s stunning debut. Since the novel’s publication in March, the same has been true of the reading public and critics alike, making In Memoriam a bestseller from the start.
In Memoriam is an enthralling story of forbidden love that blooms in the shadow of the First World War, as best friends Gaunt and Ellwood leave their idyllic Wiltshire boarding school for the trenches. Cinematic and heartbreakingly tender, Winn’s narrative combines an unforgettable tale of human connection with the harrowing realities of military conflict, celebrating the tenacity of hope in the darkest of times.
The 2023 Shortlist
Introducing the Shortlisted Authors
Discover our six finalists
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Originally from Spring Valley, New York, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah took the literary scene by storm in 2018 with his short story collection Friday Black. Loved by readers and critics alike, it earned him the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, amongst many other accolades. Chain-Gang All-Stars is his debut novel.
Immersed in gang culture as a young woman, Jacqueline Crooks carved out a space through music and politics – forces that have fuelled her writing and charity work ever since. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and the BBC National Short Story Award. Her debut novel Fire Rush draws from her experiences of growing up in 1970s and 80s Southall and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2023.
Based in Belfast, where his first novel Close to Home is set and where he once upon a time worked as a Waterstones bookseller, Michael Magee is the fiction editor of The Tangerine. His writing has appeared in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly and The Lifeboat among others, and he has a PhD in Creative Writing from Queen's University, Belfast.
Having spent her childhood and youth in Paris and New York, Cecile Pin moved to London at eighteen to study Philosophy at University College London, followed by a master's degree at King’s College London. In 2021, she scooped a London Writers Award, and earlier this year her debut novel Wandering Souls was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023.
Originally from Galway and now based in Belgium, Colin Walsh was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year in 2019. His writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times and been broadcast on RTE Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4, and his short fiction has won the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Prize and the Hennessy Literary Award. His atmospheric debut Kala is part coming-of-age, part mystery set in a picturesque Western Irish village.
After spending her formative years in Paris, Alice Winn was educated in a British boarding school in Wiltshire and later read English Literature at Oxford University. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York City, and writes screenplays. Her bestselling debut novel In Memoriam is a powerful queer love story that blooms in the trenches of the First World War.
Powered by playful originality and a cast of brilliantly drawn characters living in the same dilapidated apartment block in a post-industrial Mid-West town, Gunty's compulsively readable debut blends razor-sharp psychological insight with irresistible humour.
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