2016 Winners

E J Pepper

The judges, Carla Josephson, fiction editor at Simon & Schuster, Lorena Goldsmith, literary consultant at Daniel Goldsmith Associates and Robin Wade, literary agent at Wade & Co. are delighted to announce the 2016 winners of the First Novel Prize.

E J Pepper won the First Prize and £1,000 with her first novel, ‘The Colours of the Dance’, a novel with a unique narrator.

‘This is a fresh and original novel with a entirely unique voice. Brede is a compelling narrator and her child-like perspective on the political events unfolding in Ireland in the late 19th cen
tury is emotive and shines a very human angle on this historic time.  The cast of characters is varied and multi-layered and the reader really cares about Brede’s story’ – Carla Josephson

‘This is a really striking first novel. The setting – 1880s Ulster – is ambitious in terms of history and language, but the author succeeds by paying close attention to period detail and has a great ear for dialogue and dialect, which combine nicely with a warm wit. The characters are very well drawn and utterly convincing, particularly of course Kate and Brede. Brede’s lack of speech is a clever and confident trick in terms of the unfolding narrative and her passion for Irish folk dance is a lovely touch’ – Robin Wade

‘‘Colours of the Dance’ has been a long time in the making, so it’s a wonderful surprise, and a privilege, to win this award. I’ve been asked a number of times how I chose the central character – that of the voiceless Catholic child, Brede – but it feels very much as if she chose me. Her struggle as one of the countless dispossessed in the Victorian era is also of course one of the major preoccupations of the 21st century. My warmest thanks to the three judges’ – E J Pepper

‘The Colours of the Dance’ is currently on submission to literary agents.


Yaara Lahav Gregory won the Second Prize and £250 with her first novel, ‘Night Swimming in the Jordan’, a compelling mixture of political and personal with a strong sense of place and atmosphere.

Yaara Lahav Gregory

‘I love the high-concept for this novel – 1970s Israel is potentially tricky to recreate authentically, but the author paints a wonderful and evocative landscape that really pulls the reader into her world. The daily life of the Kibbutz she depicts is fascinating and the author seamlessly weaves a story integrating the characters’ personal lives with an extremely politically-charged atmosphere’ – Clara Josephson

‘I find this a very accomplished novel, which deals with a wide range of emotions and issues, both personal and political. The author writes extremely well and demonstrates great confidence in weaving the story through time slip and different locations. The result is a compelling narrative, in an authentic historical setting. The characterisation throughout is deft and convincing’ – Robin Wade

‘It is hugely heartening to be recognised by such professionals working within the industry – I did not in the least expect it’ – Yaara Lahav Gregory

Yaara is represented by Rachel Mills at Furniss Lawton in London.


Clarissa Goenawan

Clarissa Goenawan won the Third Prize and £100 with ‘Rainbirds’, a novel that delivers a huge amount of punch with an incredible lightness.

‘I find that the sparse and economical prose of this novel heightens the quite simple plot of a young man discovering the truth behind his older sister’s death. The author is adept at pulling the reader into the main character’s world and the transparency of the writing allows for emotions to shine through’ – Carla Josephson

‘This inventive mystery novel, set in small town Japan, is a competent debut by an author who shows promise. The writing is quite spare but nonetheless effective, with good characterisation and scene-setting. I particularly admire the seamless shift of viewpoint within the prose and dialogue as the narration switches between present and past, and this helps quickly to build up interest in the situation and the characters’ – Robin Wade

‘I’m so thankful and honoured to be one of the winners. Receiving this award is a further encouragement to pursue my dream’ – Clarissa Goenawan

Clarissa is represented by The Pontas Agency in Barcelona and ‘Rainbirds’ will be published by Soho Press in the US in 2018.


The organisers, Daniel Goldsmith Associates, would like to thank the entrants and the judges for the wonderful opportunity of working with so much new talent this year and are looking forward to organising the Prize again in 2017.