AN author talent-spotted by the Manchester Writing School has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Nicholas Royle, senior lecturer in creative writing at MMU, was so impressed by Alison Moore’s entry to the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize that he snapped up her debut novel for the publishing house Salt Publishing.
The same novel is now one of six fighting for the £50,000 prize, the most prestigious in the country.
Alison Moore, the Manchester-born author of The Lighthouse, was chosen by Nicholas to be shortlisted for the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize, run by the Manchester Writing School.Although Nicholas was overruled when he chose Alison to win the prize, he was determined to nurture her talent, and asked her to write another short story for his small publisher, Nightjar Press.
And when Nicholas took on a job as an editor at Salt Publishing alongside his role at MMU he was quick to sign up Alison’s debut novel.
He said: “I knew as soon as I read Alison's anonymously entered story, "Static", while judging the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize, that here was a serious talent. Her story was my choice for first prize, but my fellow judges would agree only to a shortlisting.”
Nicholas found out the book had been longlisted via Twitter while he was on holiday in France, but said he could not believe it when it went one stage further and made the shortlist.
“The feeling of euphoria was incredible,” he said. “The news of the shortlisting was completely unexpected, even though I feel she totally deserves it. I am incredibly pleased for Alison and proud of her. And this is all thanks, in a way, to the Manchester Fiction Prize.”
Now Alison will have to beat competition from the 2009 Booker winner Hilary Mantel, the favourite to win the prize on October 16th, plus Will Self, Tan Twan Eng, Jeet Thayil and Deborah Levy.
James Draper, manager of the Manchester Writing School, said: “When Carol Ann Duffy and I set up the Manchester Writing Competition in 2008, we wanted to award a big prize to the best submission, but we also had a side mission – to seek out and showcase world-class writing by rising talent.
"This is one of the reasons we’ve always invited short-listed entrants to come and read from their work at the gala prize-giving ceremony – so they have a chance to shine alongside the overall winners."
James continued: “Many of our finalists have gone on to have their writing published, or to win other competitions, but Alison’s piece in particular caught Nick’s attention during the 2009 Manchester Fiction Prize and it’s fantastic to see the working relationship that came out of that eventually leading to a Booker short-listing.
“It’s proof for us that the competition has achieved what it set out to do – draw out the best new writing and best new writers.”
The Manchester Fiction Prize will return in 2013. This year’s Manchester Writing Competition was open to poets, and the £10,000 prize will be awarded at a gala ceremony to be held at Chethams School of Music on Friday, October 19th.
Tickets to the event cost £7, and are available from www.manchesterwritingcompetition.co.uk/poetry/gala.php or by ringing 0843 208 0500.
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