Prize announcement kicks off month-long literary extravaganza

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THE WINNERS of Portsmouth’s inaugural prize for a debut novel will be announced on the opening day of Portsmouth BookFest.

The two-week literary extravaganza begins next Saturday with two events.

The first will see authors short-listed for the £1,000 First Fiction prize meet members of Portsmouth library service’s reading groups who have spent the last six months reading and discussing the novels.

Later that day much-loved children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson will be discussing her new book, Diamonds, at Portsmouth Grammar School in a sold-out event for children.

Author Will Sutton was one of the judges who managed to narrow down the 42 debut novels on the long list to the five strong shortlist.

He said: ‘We were presented with some fantastic books to read and each of the judges had their own favourites.

‘I can assure you that there was very robust debate on which ones should make the short list but I think we’ve come up with a strong one.

‘It’s now in the hands of the readers to vote for who they think should be the inaugural winner.’

The award is given to an author resident in the UK.

The shortlist is:

· Clay by Melissa Harrison

· Tony Hogan bought me an ice cream float before he stole my ma by Kerry Hudson

· The Night Rainbow by Claire King

· The Fields by Kevin Maher

· She Rises by Kate Worsley

Clare Forsythe, service development manager for Portsmouth Library Service, said: ‘Along with our partners, the Hayling Island Bookshop, we are excited about the start of Portsmouth BookFest next Saturday.

‘We launch the festival with two exciting events, the Portsmouth First Fiction Award and a return visit from Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

‘This is the first year of the Fiction Award in Portsmouth and BookFest is proud to promote and recognise new writing talent.’

BookFest will feature 40 authors in 27 events at 15 different locations across the city.

For more information call (023) 9262 2037 or go to portsmouthbookfest.co.uk.