6 novels shortlisted for Waterstones debut fiction prize

Six “bold and playful” novels, including The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley and Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly, have been shortlisted for the prestigious Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, per theguardian.com. This prize, now in its third year, recognises outstanding debut fiction published in the UK, with the winner receiving a £5,000 award. 

The selection is made by Waterstones booksellers.

Joining Bradley and Reilly on the shortlist are Martyr!, poet Kaveh Akbar’s first venture into fiction; Mongrel by actor Hanako Footman; Glorious Exploits by Ferdia Lennon; and The Silence in Between by Josie Ferguson. 

Bea Carvalho, Waterstones’ head of books, praised the authors for their confident storytelling and unique perspectives, noting their ability to handle complex themes with sensitivity and flair.

Bradley’s The Ministry of Time, a time-travel romcom about a disaffected civil servant, has already topped the UK book charts and was described as “very smart” and “very silly” by Guardian reviewer Ella Risbridger. Akbar’s Martyr! explores the life of Cyrus, the son of an Iranian migrant in Indiana, grappling with trauma and addiction. The prose is said to “sing from the very first line,” according to a bookseller at Waterstones Crewe.

Reilly’s Greta and Valdin follows two Māori-Russian-Catalonian siblings navigating their identities and romantic entanglements. Tilly from Waterstones Croydon called it “laugh-out-loud funny” and “endlessly quotable.” Footman’s Mongrel intertwines the lives of three young women in Japan and the UK, which Emily from Waterstones Salisbury described as “breathtakingly heart achingly brilliant.”

Rounding out the shortlist, Ferguson’s The Silence in Between centres on a family divided by the Berlin Wall, while Lennon’s Glorious Exploits portrays locals and captured soldiers in 412BC Sicily, using modern Irish vernacular.

The winner will be announced on 25 July. 

Last year’s prize went to Alice Winn’s In Memoriam, which became the bestselling debut of 2023.


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