Three novels exploring themes of how innocence can be lost have been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize.
Golden Child by Claire Adam, Hold by Michael Donkor and Devoured by Anna Mackmin are all in the running to win the £10,000 prize and be named the year’s best debut novel.
The prize, named after the literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott, is an annual award for a first novel written in English and published in the UK.
Last year’s prize was awarded to Preti Taneja for We That Are Young, with rights for the debut novel acquired for a television adaptation.
In the 2019 shortlist, Adam’s novel Golden Child (Faber & Faber) introduces readers to the world of her childhood in Trinidad, telling the story of a family with twin boys with different personalities.
In Hold (4th Estate), Donkor explores the conflict between a person’s heritage and the culture in which they grew up, taking inspiration from his own childhood experiences of being a London-born Ghanaian.
The final book to be shortlisted, Devoured (Propolis Books), is a vivid semi-autobiographical tale of a girl growing up in a commune in Norfolk.
All three titles explore the theme of how innocence can be lost following the realisation that long-accepted beliefs about the world might not be true.
Dallas Manderson, chairman of the prize’s trustees, said: “The purpose of the Desmond Elliott Prize is to support debut novelists, to raise their profile and provide them with a financial platform from which they can dive into their next novel.
“It is no easy task for our judges to whittle the long list down from 10 to a shortlist of three and I know every year there is a fierce debate in the judging room.
“It is with great joy that we present the Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist for 2019.”
Chair of the judges Alan Hollinghurst is joined on the judging panel by the literary editor of The Times, Robbie Millen, and managing director of the Booksellers Association, Meryl Halls.
The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on June 19, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.