Entertainment & Arts

Blogger up for Desmond Elliott debut authors prize

Lisa McInerney Image copyright PA
Image caption Lisa McInerney is known for her no-nonsense depictions of the harsh realities of working class life in her native Ireland

Award-winning blogger Lisa McInerney is one of three writers to have been nominated for the prestigious Desmond Elliott Prize for first time novelists.

McInerney created the Irish blog Arse End of Ireland about a council estate in her native Galway.

McInerney's The Glorious Heresies will compete with Gavin McCrea's Mrs Engels and Julia Rochester's The House at the Edge of the World.

The winner, named on 22 June, will receive £10,000.

Former winners include Anjali Joseph and Nikita Lalwani.

The prize is named after the acclaimed publisher and literary agent, who nurtured authors such as Jilly Cooper and Anthony Horowitz. He died in 2003 at the age of 73.

The judges said the three nominees "delivered books that belied their position as debut authors".

Chairman Iain Pears added: "These are hugely ambitious, complex, confident works by three extremely talented writers and it is wonderful that the Desmond Elliott Prize exists to help them reach the wide audience they so richly deserve."

McInerney, who calls herself the "Sweary Lady", is known for her no-nonsense depictions of the harsh realities of working class life in her homeland, exemplified by her now-defunct blog, started in 2006.

'Linguistically dazzling'

Image copyright Desmond Elliott
Image caption Julia Rochester's book is a family drama set in her childhood landscape of Devon while Irish writer Gavin McCrea's novel about a middle-aged mill worker Lizzie who dreams of a new life is also set in his native Ireland in 1870

Carrying on the themes of social "grime" in her novel, it is set in post-economic crash Ireland and features drug dealers, young love and a gangster's mother who is every bit as violent as her offspring.

The book has also been shortlisted for the 2016 Baileys women's prize for fiction.

The Desmond Elliott judges called the book a "many-storied edifice, gritty, witty and wise, linguistically dazzling and metaphorically intoxicating".

Fellow Irish writer McCrea's Mrs Engels is also a story of Irish hardship set in 1870 and focuses on the middle-aged mill worker Lizzie who dreams of a new life of comfort, pinning her hopes on her wealthy mill owner lover becoming her husband.

The judges called McCrea a "ringmaster and recorder" of the novel's colourful events and characters.

"His is a narrative canvas as eventfully crowded as it is richly meaningful," they added.

Rochester, who was on the longlist for the Bailey's prize, hails from Devon but now lives in London.

Her book, The House at the Edge of the World, is set in her childhood landscape and centres around the individuals of a family battling to escape the embarrassment of the drunken death of the husband and father and the claustrophobia of the crumbling family home.

The judges called the novel "a slow-burning psychological drama within a momentous tale of flaring sibling love".

"Here the writer's plot, and the reader's pleasure, lies in impeccably mapping a mystery of the human heart," they said.

Last year's winner was Claire Fuller for her book Our Endless Numbered Days.

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