Fiona Mozley’s first book, Elmet, tells the story of two children and their father who want to live in peace and stay far away from everyone in their village – but trouble lands on the doorstep of their house in the woods and their idyllic life is irrevocably changed.
The 29-year-old’s debut has received numerous compliments from critics: “An explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable” (Economist); “Hansel and Gretel meets The Godfather” (Sunday Times).
Mozley, who works part-time in a small bookshop in York, has strong competition as she joins established authors Ali Smith, George Saunders, Paul Auster, Mohsin Hamid and Emily Fridlund on this year’s shortlist.
The young author studied at Cambridge University before living in Buenos Aires for a year. She has a PhD in medieval studies.
“It’s absolutely extraordinary. I still can’t believe that it’s happened,” she told Sky News.
Mozley wrote the novel on her mobile phone while travelling from London to York on the train.
“If you want to be a writer you have to actually write something so that’s what I tried to do and it went much better than I thought it would,” she said.
Since the shortlist announcement, publishers JM Originals have printed an additional 15,000 copies of Elmet.
The Man Booker winner will receive a £50,000 prize. Previous winners include Hilary Mantel, Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood, William Golding, Kingsley Amis and Ian McEwan.