Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Desmond Elliott Prize 2008 seeks 'sparkling new fiction'

As devoted fans of Arcati know, I am no great propagandist for mainstream publishing (run largely by marketing tarts and shop assistants) or of literary contests. But what would life be without exceptions to one’s rule? I do not hesitate to recommend to writers of fiction The Desmond Elliott Prize 2008 - a new biennial prize for a first novel written in English and published in the UK.

Worth £10,000 to the winner, the prize is named after the literary agent and publisher, Desmond Elliott. The judges seek a book with “buzz”, which has ”word-of-mouth” and lasting appeal; which is a page-turner that possesses intelligence. That book could be yours.

Let’s hope it’s not fucking Ian McEwan, the Dame Judi Dench of literary awards.

Books and entry forms should be submitted to the Prize Administrator to arrive no later than Friday 23 November 2007. For more about the Prize, entry forms and conditions and the extraordinary and late Desmond Elliott, visit its website - click here.

Incidentally, one of Elliott’s favourite Truman Capote anecdotes will be well known to aficionados but is worth repeating here. As Elliott told it: “Truman Capote was having drinks with Tennessee Williams. Now let me see if I can remember....It must have been Truman Capote because he appeared on television and they wouldn’t have recognised Tennessee Williams.... So anyway two tables from them were these two rednecks with their girlfriends who were staring at their table riveted. You can just see it.... Finally one of the girlfriends got up and came over to Capote’s table and leaned over and said, ‘Gee. Are you Truman Capote?’ And he said, ‘Yes. I am’. You see. And she said, ‘Would you sign my menu?’ So she handed him the menu and he signed his name. She went back to her table and showed the menu to her friends. One of the boyfriends carrying his can of beer got up and walked over to Capote and said, ‘Are you Truman Capote?’ And he said, ‘Yes. I am.’ He unzipped his trousers and pulled out his dick. ‘Will you sign this?’ And Truman said, ‘I can’t sign it. But I can initial it.’”

Picture: Desmond Elliott

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Madame for mentioning Desmond's prize on your blog. I knew Desmond fairly well. He had an old Bosch dishwasher in the kitchen of his apartment. "It's eccentric like me. I guess it's just trying to conform in its own small world", he'd say.

Desmond had his own banquette table in the corner of the St James's Restaurant in Fortnum & Mason. On one occasion, Michael Winner stole his table. Winner wrote in his Sunday Times restaurant column: 'I apologised to Mr Elliott on the way out. "I'm so sorry I pinched your table", I said. He was very gracious. More than I would have been in the circumstances. He stood up, even though he'd just been served his main course, shook my hand and said: "That's perfectly all right, Mr Winner, I didn't know anyone knew about it." A real gent.'

Desmond was a real gent, but I seem to remember him saying: "Michael Winner was complaining about pomposity, which is like Judas complaining about Jesus having bad breath."