Bath Novel Award 2021 Winner | Prize: £3,000

Historical with magic realism | unpublished

“Set in 1990s Delhi, this utterly immersive novel swept me off my feet from the first page. Its young protagonist Adi Sharma is so acutely observant of his surroundings that by the time he meets a talking vulture I was so at home inside his head that I was willing to go wherever that would take me.

The elements of magical realism and humour provide a striking counterpoint to the legacy of Partition, which reverberates through the generations and is the root cause of Adi’s mother’s periodic disappearances and the void at the heart of his family.

Through exceptionally skilful characterisation and page-turning storytelling, the author examines themes of identity and belonging, collective memory and trauma in a uniquely confident voice that had me holding my breath one minute, holding back tears the next, and always cheering Adi on as he navigates an adult world that he turns out to be better equipped for than most of the grown-ups around him.”

– Julia Silk, 2021 Judge

AP FIRDAUS has worked as a writer for over a decade—in Mumbai, New Delhi, Singapore, and London—writing ads by day and fiction by night. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where he was awarded an International Excellence Scholarship, and where he spent “the plague years” researching and writing Ghost Time, his second unpublished novel.

Named after an alternative translation of the Sanskrit ‘bhoot kaal’—past tense—Ghost Time is set in India in 1997-98, the year of 50th anniversary celebrations and nuclear jingoism. The protagonist, however, is a 12-year-old boy who has bigger problems—his Ma is missing, and no adult can offer any answers. The novel began from a childhood memory which grew into an excavation of historical trauma that runs deep across generations, unspoken but never forgotten, from the scars of British India’s Partition to the buried toll of female infanticide. It ended up with a central question: How do you forget the horrors of the past and move on?

Read the opening of Ghost Time

Interview with AP Firdaus


Bath Novel Award 2021 Shortlisted:
Family drama | unpublished

“The narrator is the mother of an autistic child, Rex, whom she addresses – compellingly and unselfconsciously – in the second person. I loved that Rex’s sister is also given a point of view, in the form of a journal, and that the focus is equally on the narrator’s unresolved grief over her own mother’s death, and the gulf that opens up in her marriage as a result of the strains of family life. This is a novel that holds the attention throughout, and I read it in two sittings.”

Julia Silk, 2021 Judge


EMILY HUGHES was born in Switzerland and now lives in Berkshire with her family. She studied German and English Literature at Warwick University, and later for an MA in Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmith’s College.

Emily is a qualified secondary English teacher and has worked in school settings with young people in various capacities for over ten years. She also creates photographic art prints for sale; visual art is an important source of inspiration for her writing.

She came to writing late, having decided it was important to have acquired sufficient life experience in order to have something interesting to say. Call Me Suzy is written from the heart, drawing on Emily’s personal experiences of motherhood, family life and parenting a child with autism. 

Read the opening of Call Me Suzy


Bath Novel Award 2021 Shortlisted:
Literary | unpublished

“Rose, orphaned by an air disaster over Iceland, is invited there to speak about her mother, who fell to earth as the plane broke apart, and survived for nine miraculous days. There she meets an academic specialising in local folklore, who also lost his mother at a young age. A heartbreaking anatomy of loneliness and exploitation, which deftly demonstrates how mythologizing can take many different forms.”

– Julia Silk, 2021 Judge

FRANCESCA KING was born in London, England.  After completing her MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, she moved to the U.S. to pursue an MFA at the University of Wyoming.  She now resides in Laramie with her husband and two cats.

Plane crashes, and the survivors of plane crashes, have fascinated Francesca since her first solo flight to China as a teenager.  She loves films and books about crises in the sky.  Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is one of her favourite novels.

Francesca’s first unpublished novel, The Cello Hospital, was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize in 2017.  An early draft of Hiddenland was developed with the support of the University of Wyoming, who generously funded two trips to Iceland and a place on the Arctic Circle Residency in 2019.

Read the opening of Hiddenland

Bath Novel Award 2021 Shortlisted:
Literary horror | unpublished

“When Merryn returns home from the city to attend the memorial of an ex-boyfriend, she initially resists the pull of her old life, but soon becomes drawn into the world of folklore in which her aunt Ysella, suspicious of all outside influences, is steeped. I loved the contrast with the idealised, prettified Cornwall of popular imagination and the initially creeping but increasingly urgent sense of the uncanny that pervades the narrative until it becomes impossible to tell what is real and what imagined.” 

– Julia Silk, 2021 Judge

JODIE MATTHEWS is a queer Cornish writer, poet and book reviewer currently living in Staffordshire, where she works as a gardener in an historical garden. Her poetry and personal essays have been published in various independent publications, including Ramona Mag and Cunning Folk, and she has shortlisted for the BPA First Novel Award. Jodie began Meet Me At The Surface in 2020 whilst working full time, and shortly after won a year’s membership to The London Library from author Jessie Burton, to further her research.

Whilst growing up on Bodmin Moor, Jodie developed a fascination with the Beast of Bodmin and all things folklore. Her writing explores the uncanny, liminal spaces and the small terrors of identity. In Meet Me At The Surface, she aims to show a side of Cornwall often unseen by tourists, rich in storytelling culture. She is newly represented by Liv Maidment from the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency.

Read the opening of Meet Me At The Surface

Update: 2022 Interview with Jodie Matthews on her publishing deal with 4th Estate

Bath Novel Award 2021 Shortlisted:
Historical | unpublished

“When Tibb’s mother dies, swiftly followed by her newborn sister, Ivo takes her under his wing and they live an idyllic life foraging on the Norfolk coast. Soon, though, the reality of life outside of their charmed self-sufficiency begins to intrude, Ivo disappears, and Tibb must summon all her not inconsiderable charm and wits to make a life for herself. The first few pages of this historical novel were one of the best openings I’ve ever read, the writing fizzes with energy throughout, and I adored the author’s unique voice and the truly original and diverse cast of characters. Tibb is a feminist icon of a heroine, who reminded me strongly of Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite, and the ending was deliciously satisfying.”

– Julia Silk, 2021 Judge


Following an English Literature degree, ROSANNA ORAM began a teaching career and also freelanced for the Evening Standard as a red carpet interviewer.

After completing creative writing courses at Curtis Brown Creative and the Faber Academy she came across the true story of Elizabeth, the so-called ‘Holy Maid of Leominster’, while researching for a different novel.

The bizarreness of the hoax – in which a teenage girl is believed to be an angel – made her laugh and she was curious about how the logistics would have worked in reality. She began to wonder what had happened to give Elizabeth the guts and inclination to attempt such a hilarious and perilous trick and was compelled to imagine a life for her

Read the opening of Something of a Hoax


Bath Novel Award 2021 Shortlisted:
Historical | unpublished

“Against a vividly evoked backdrop of wartime Singapore, the author weaves together a dual narrative with a bittersweet romance at its heart, by way of the Changi quilts sewn by the women interned by the Japanese. Time and place are so beautifully realised in the past strand, I can still picture every scene like a series of movie stills, and the dual meaning of the ‘stolen threads’ of the title becomes painfully poignant as the novel progresses.”

– Julia Silk, 2021 Judge

After a first career in magazine publishing and a second in creative arts education, CAROLINE WARD VINE graduated with Distinction for an MA in Creative Writing shortly before winning 2018’s Costa Short Story Prize.

She began Stolen Threads in 2019, inspired by “craftism”, a trip to Singapore and the piecing together of forgotten fragments of family history after losing her grandmother to dementia.

Caroline works as a communications consultant and lives in rural Kent with her husband and son. She loves to sing, to cook and to grow plants from seed, passions which, together with “perennial wanderlust”, thread through her fiction.

Read the opening of Stolen Threads

The Cornerstones Literary Consultancy Prize for most promising longlisted manuscript is awarded to:


Commercial | reading group | unpublished

Prize: the online course Edit Your Novel the Professional Way

“We all liked Guido’s voice and strong (self-avoiding) character.”

-Helen Corner-Bryant, Founder Director of Cornerstones Literary Consultancy


Another Kind of Life
Gift Nyoni
Call Me Suzy
Emily Hughes
Change is a Coming
Ayesha Farhat
Phoebe McIntosh
Don't Call Us Dreamers
Charlotte Tomlinson
Everything is Uneven
Richard O'Halloran
Ghost Time
AP Firdaus
Here Lies Guido Perkins
Rachael Dunlop
Francesca King
Naomi French
It's Not Like This in Teen Movies
Jenny Ireland
Kaddy Benyon
Meet Me At the SurfaceJodie Matthews
Something of a Hoax
Rosanna Oram
Stolen Threads
Caroline Ward Vine
Jo Lindsay
The Bath Circulating Library Society
Kevan Manwaring
The Confinement of Ada Atwood
Laura Faulkner
The Covent Garden Mermaids
Kerry Burnett
The Killing Tide
Portia D'Anverrs
The Last Girl in Skegness
James Sharpe
The Ledger of Abandoned Stories
Jem Tyley-Miller
The Norfolk House
Alison Fogg
The Pool
Racheal Bloom
The Secret Collector of Bartholomew Row
Abigail Johnson
Touching Doctor Simone
Ira Mathur
Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed
We Across The Shining Sea
Lucy Grace
Wild Garlic
Sarah Renton
Wonder Ocean
Kate Evans
You Can't Be Both
Mary Murray Brown

Bath Novel Award 2021 Shortlist Announcement

Bath Novel Award 2021 Longlist Announcement

Bath Novel Award 2021 Judge