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Sam Leith smallSam Leith, the author, columnist and literary editor, will chair the judging panel for the 10th anniversary Desmond Elliott Prize, the “most prestigious award for first-time novelists” (the Telegraph) in the UK and Ireland. Leith will be joined by the award-winning author, Kamila Shamsie, and specialist book buyer for WHSmith, Iain Rushworth, in the hunt to find the best debut novel of the year.

Currently literary editor of the Spectator, Leith also regularly writes for the Financial Times, Prospect and the Guardian. He was named Columnist of the Year at The Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards 2016 for his column in the London Evening Standard and has published three works of non-fiction and one novel, The Coincidence Engine. Leith was a judge on the panel of the 2015 Man Booker Prize and now follows in the footsteps of the acclaimed authors Iain Pears and Louise Doughty, who chaired the Desmond Elliott Prize judging panel in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Leith said: “As space given over to books coverage across the mainstream media continues to decrease, first-time novelists are finding it harder and harder to get their books reviewed and read. This is why the Desmond Elliott Prize is so vital – it offers an essential platform to promote the work of debut authors and gives one special writer a year the financial support that will help them complete their second book and hopefully go on to enjoy a long and successful career. I’m delighted and honoured to chair the judging panel in the Prize’s tenth anniversary year.”

Shamsie wrote her own debut, In the City by the Sea, while at university. She has gone on to write a further five novels, the most recent of which, A God in Every Stone, was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

As a specialist book buyer for WHSmith, Rushworth is responsible for all buying for the chain’s stand-alone airport and rail bookshops as well as its concession bookshops in Harrods and Selfridges.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017, the Desmond Elliott Prize has a stellar track record for spotting new talent, with past winners including Lisa McInerney, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride. The Prize is presented in the name of the late publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, in order to perpetuate his passion for discovering and nurturing emerging authors. The judges, with Desmond’s values in mind, will be looking for vividly written novels with a compelling narrative and arresting characters.

The Chairman of the Prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “It is with much excitement that we look forward to discovering our tenth winner. I know that Desmond would be thrilled that his award has brought so much astounding new talent into the spotlight. It’s a delight to be celebrating ten years of dazzling debuts – long may Desmond’s legacy continue.”

A longlist of 10 books will be announced in April and a shortlist in May. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 21st June 2017 where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.

PPC shortlist 2

Hot on the heels of scooping the PPC Quarterly Award for our work on Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus, we are delighted to have been nominated a total of FOUR times for the Annual Awards.

Our campaign for Homo Deus goes head to head with our work on The Path by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh in the Hardback Non-Fiction Category; meanwhile our work on M G Leonard’s smash-hit Beetle Boy and Holly Bourne’s How Hard Can Love Be? received nods in the Children’s and Young Adult categories respectively.

Recognising excellence in the publishing industry, the winners will be announced at a dinner in London on 13th Feb. Wish us luck!

IMG_0208High fives (and champers) all round at the Riot office today as our campaign for Yuval Noah Harari’s HOMO DEUS was named winner of the Publishers’ Publicity Circle (PPC) Quarterly Award.

Praised by judges for the “thorough exploration of all possible avenues” which led to “incredibly impressive amounts of coverage”, our 8-month campaign not only made Homo Deus one of the most talked-about books of the year, which set it sailing into the Sunday Times Bestseller Charts at #3, but also cemented the author’s position as one of the most important global intellectuals writing today.

The win comes almost exactly two years after we scooped the same PPC Award for launching a then-unknown Harari into the bestseller lists for his debut title, Sapiens.

Chris Riddell, Cressida Cowell and Mick Inkpen are amongst the illustrators taking part in the Oodles of Doodles campaign to inspire the next generation of creative talent


National Book Tokens and World Book Day are offering budding artists the opportunity to have their work featured alongside some of the nation’s top children’s illustrators, to mark 20 years of World Book Day in 2017. The Oodles of Doodles competition will invite youngsters to design a special National Book Token commemorating the 20th anniversary of the world’s biggest celebration of books and reading.

Over 40 illustrators who have supported World Book Day over the past 20 years, including Chris Riddell, Cressida Cowell, Mick Inkpen, Tony Ross, Rob Biddulph and Sophy Henn, have been asked to ‘doodle something booky’ for the occasion. Their artwork will then form part of an online gallery that will provide inspiration for the aspiring illustrators wanting to enter.

There will be three age categories in the Oodles of Doodles competition – 8-years-old and under, 9-12 and 13-16 years. Each category winner will receive £200 worth of National Book Tokens for themselves, as well as £200 for their teacher and £500 for their school. The judges’ favourites will also have their entry displayed on the World Book Day website and the overall winning entry will be made into a real National Book Token and distributed to hundreds of bookshops nationwide in time for Christmas 2017.

Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day said: “We are deeply honoured to have had some of the nation’s most iconic and best-loved illustrators participate in and support World Book Day over the years, and we want to take this opportunity to harness their talent to inspire the next generation. We’re asking our illustrator alumni to ‘doodle something booky’ to mark our 20th anniversary – it will be great to see their favourite characters enjoying books and reading too.”

chris-riddellChris Riddell, Waterstones Children’s Laureate, said: “The doodle is the little brother or sister of drawing. Everyone can doodle, they don’t realise this means they can draw. Our hope is that this competition will encourage children across the country to put pencil to paper, get creative and show us what their imaginations are capable of. We need Oodles of Doodles!”

National Book Tokens and World Book Day’s Oodles of Doodles competition will be launching on 9 January. Entries should be sent to World Book Day Design a Book Token Competition, Book Tokens Ltd, 6 Bell Yard, London WC2A 2JR by midnight on Friday 14th April.

The doodles contributed by the World Book Day illustrators will then be auctioned off online in support of World Book Day, which is a small, registered charity.

Visit www.worldbookday.com for more information, the latest news and to subscribe to the free monthly World Book Day e-newsletter.