McCleen wins Desmond Elliott Prize 2012
Debut novel described as 'unlike anything you have ever read'
Grace McCleen has won the fifth Desmond Elliott Prize for her novel The Land of Decoration, which was inspired by her childhood growing up in a religious sect.
She was awarded the £10,000 prize by the judges last night, who described her debut as "a novel that can move the reader from sadness to laughter with alarming suddenness".
The Land of Decoration is narrated by Judith McPherson, a 10-year-old girl, growing up with her father as a member of the Christian Brotherhood of the Last Days. Judith is bullied at school and shunned by the local community. However, she finds solace in her a model world in her bedroom, her ‘Land of Decoration’. When she creates a miniature snow scene, real snow begins to fall outside and she starts to wonder if she can work her own miracles. However, events take a darker turn and she begins to question her life and faith…
The judges described The Land of Decoration as "unlike anything you have ever read" and praised McCleen’s use of original language and ideas.
McCleen, who appeared at this year's Hay Festival, cites William Blake, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf and Marilynne Robinson among her influences, and began the novel while completing an MA at the University of York. A keen artist, she has pledged to return to her love of music after her third novel is published.
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen is published by Chatto.