HARVILL SECKER AND TELEGRAPH UNVEIL A NEW CRIME WRITING STAR
HARVILL SECKER TO PUBLISH WINNING CRIME NOVELSET DURING BRITSH RAJ
Abir Mukherjee is the winner of the Telegraph Harvill Secker Crime Writing Prize, launched last July to find an unpublished crime writing star to join one of the country’s leading literary imprints, home to bestselling crime authors including Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Fred Vargas, Stuart Neville and Eva Dolan. An extract from Abir Mukherjee’s winning entry – ‘A Rising Man’ – can be read at the Telegraph.
Set in India in 1919, ‘A Rising Man’ opens with the brutal murder of a British burra sahib in the backstreets of Calcutta. Was the killing politically motivated by the Quit India movement? Captain Sam Wyndham of the Imperial Police Force, a former Scotland Yard detective and a man scarred by the Great War, is asked to investigate. Described as “a good man upholding a corrupt system”, Wyndham is assisted by the equally conflicted Sergeant Bannerjee, who is torn between his belief in British justice and the Empire’s repression of his own people.
Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime editor at Harvill Secker and the founder of the prize says: ‘I was delighted by the high standard shown in the entries we received for the competition, but A Rising Man was a very worthy winner. Abir’s opening chapters are beautifully written, atmospheric and intelligent, with a great setting and a wonderfully wry sense of humour throughout. In Captain Wyndham, we have a main character who promises to be someone with whom readers will love to spend time and who will sit happily on the Harvill Secker bookshelves alongside our home-grown and international detectives. I can’t wait to read the whole book, and I’m delighted to be publishing it.’
Entrants were asked to submit the first 5000 words of their crime, thriller or mystery novel and a complete plot synopsis. Winner Abir Mukherjee receives a publishing contract with Harvill Secker and a £5000 advance. Abir says: ‘It’s come as a complete surprise and I’m thrilled to have won. I’ve always wanted to write a novel but this is the first time I’ve ever shown any of my writing to anyone other than family and friends. I find the British Raj a fascinating time in history, a period which has shaped both modern day Britain and India. To have Harvill Secker publish my novel is fantastic, as I’m a big fan of Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell’
The entries were judged by a panel of five judges: Alison Hennessey, senior editor at Harvill Secker; Bethan Jones, Publicity Director at Harvill Secker; Sam Copeland, literary agent at RCW; Richard Reynolds, crime buyer at Heffers; and Jon Stock, Telegraph books desk and author of the Daniel Marchant spy thriller trilogy.
More than 400 people entered. A highly-commended runner-up was Susanna Drury for ‘Trust’ and there were four shortlisted entries: Guy Bolton for ‘The Pictures’, Josephine Jarman for ‘Patience’, Janet Olearski for ‘Foreigner’ and Elle Wild for ‘Strange Things Done’.