Goth rocker and former child chess prodigy compete for Desmond Elliott Prize


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The Independent Culture

A retired goth rocker and a former child chess prodigy are among the authors competing for a £10,000 literary prize.

The Desmond Elliott Prize, named after the Irish publisher and literary agent, is awarded every year to the best first novel written in English and published in the UK.

Rosie Garland, who sang in Leeds goth band The March Violets before becoming a published poet, is nominated for The Palace Of Curiosities - a tale of two Victorian circus freaks.

There are seven women writers on the longlist of 10 including Livingston-born Jenni Fagan whose work as a writer in residence at prisons influenced her book The Panopticon about a mysterious home for young offenders.

Also nominated are Dublin-born journalist Kevin Maher and Sheffield-based Gavin Extance.

Extance, who grew up in Lincolnshire, played chess competitively from the ages of five to 11 and travelled to Russia to play.

His novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, is the story of an unlikely friendship between a reclusive widower and a science-obsessed teenager.

Novelist Joanne Harris, who chairs the judges, said: "The Desmond Elliott Prize is a landmark moment in an author's career. It is enormously heartening that as well as it being a wonderful time for debut fiction, it's also an exciting time for female writers."

The shortlist will be announced next month with the winner revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum and Mason in central London on June 27.