Entertainment & Arts

Claire Fuller wins debut-novel Desmond Elliott Prize

Clare Fuller Image copyright Adrian Harvey
Image caption Fuller ran her own marketing company for 23 years.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller has won this year's Desmond Elliott Prize for first novels.

The story, about a father who keeps his daughter captive in the wilderness, under the pretence they are the last people alive on Earth, was described by judges as "shocking and subtle".

The shortlist also featured Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey and A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray.

Fuller was awarded a cheque for £10,000 along with the prize.

Louise Doughty, who chaired the judging panel, said: "Our Endless Numbered Days is both shocking and subtle, brilliant and beautiful, a poised and elegant work that recalls the early work of Ian McEwan in the delicacy of its prose and the way that this is combined with some very dark undertones."

Presenting the award, she called for UK publishers to offer support for debut novelists, far beyond their first books.

She said: "Ian Rankin and Hilary Mantel both wrote for years before making the big time with sales.

"Ian Rankin famously succeeded with his seventh novel - and Hilary Mantel wrote brilliant, strange and wonderful books time and time again before Wolf Hall, her 10th.

"I call on the publishers of all the books on our wonderful shortlist to support these writers not only with their sparkling debuts but with their fourth, fifth, sixth novels.

"Short-termism in publishing is not only devastating for the authors who don't get the support they deserve, it's bad for business."

Fuller originally studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art before running her own marketing company for 23 years.

She began writing fiction in her 40s and belongs to a club of authors who have published their debut books in their 40s or later, called The Prime Writers.

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

Last year's winner was Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing.