The London Magazine has announced the 2020 shortlist for the The London Magazine Prize for Debut Fiction, sponsored by DeHavilland. Now in its third year, the prize celebrates exceptional literary fiction, inviting publishers to submit one debut work of fiction published in the calendar year 2019.

The shortlist, which features outstanding, original writing published in the UK, is:

  • Island Song by Madeleine Bunting (Granta)
  • The Rapture by Claire McGlasson (Faber)
  • salt slow by Julia Armfield (Picador)
  • Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery (Stinging Fly/Bloomsbury)
  • You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr (Bloomsbury)

The list includes Island Song by Madeleine Bunting, whose non-fiction writing won her the Portico Prize in 2010; Julia Armfield’s short story collection salt slow, which was longlisted for the Polari Prize 2020 and the Edge Hill Prize 2020; Damian Barr, whose novel You Will Be Safe Here was Book of the Year in the Observer, Guardian and Irish Times; as well as debuts from Irish writer Nicole Flattery, with her short story collection Show Them A Good Time, and journalist Claire McGlasson, whose novel The Rapture is based on a Bedfordshire cult founded in the early twentieth century. 

Chaired by Matthew Scott, co-editor of The London Magazine, the panel of judges comprises literary critics Houman Barekat, Suzi Feay, and Mia Levitin. The London Magazine is also pleased to announce DeHavilland as its new sponsor this year for the Debut Fiction Prize (previously supported by Collyer Bristow).

The prize has become widely known for its celebration of extraordinary new literary fiction in English and has been proud to raise the profiles of diverse and innovative new voices. In its first year, the prize was awarded to David Keenan for This is Memorial Device; he was followed by Caoilinn Hughes with her Orchid & the Wasp.

This year, the judges have remarked on the extraordinary variety of offerings that is reflected in their shortlist and Matthew Scott, the chair of judges, comments that “though it’s a cliché that the quality of submissions is ever improving, the excited enthusiasm of the judges across the board does seem to bear this out: it has been a rich year, and a wonderful one for reading – a rare positive in an otherwise extremely difficult time.”

The prize-giving will be held digitally under the auspices of The London Magazine and on its social media channels on 21st December.

For any questions regarding the prize, please email

The London Magazine
11 Queen’s Gate


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