Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize Shortlist Has Been Announced

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Waterstones has revealed their six book line-up of contenders for their debut fiction prize.

The contest, which launched in August 2022 and aims to represent the “best of the future of fiction”, with last year’s winner, The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty, going on to claim both the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize and the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction. 

This year’s line-up – selected by Waterstones’ booksellers – are characterized by their “astonishing command of storytelling, balancing tradition with innovation”, says Bea Carvalho, the Waterstones head of books. 

First up on the shortlist is Wandering Souls by Jonathan Cape assistant-turned-novelist Cecile Pin, a sorrowful story of immigration in Thatcher’s Britain told from the perspective of a family of Vietnamese immigrants in a place between the living and the dead. 

Michael Magee, fiction editor of Belfast-based magazine the Tangerine, also enters the list with debut Close to Home, the tale of a young working class man grappling with his identity.

Chain-Gang All-Stars, by PEN/Jean Stein Book award-winner Adjei-Brenyah, weaves a future dystopia where prisoners are pitted against each other for entertainment, centred around a queer love story. 

In Memoriam is also a love story, taking us to WWI trenches where two soldiers fall in love, by Brooklyn-based writer Alice Winn. 

Atlantic Books’ title, Kala, by Colin Walsh, is a coming of age story, following a group of friends in an Irish seaside town who solve the mystery of one of their friend’s disappearance.

The last entry, Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks, was also shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize, and is a story of self-discovery and police brutality in the black community of 1970s Norwood.

A winner will be announced on the 24th of August in an evening ceremony, to win £5,000 and the backing of all Waterstones shops. 

Words by Catarina Vicente

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