Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2024 Shortlist Announced

Waterstones has announced the shortlist for The Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, a prize for debut fiction of all forms, voted for by Waterstones booksellers.

Waterstones booksellers have always played a vital part in putting inspiring new voices into readers’ hands, helping to create debut bestsellers, and the Debut Fiction Prize is an extension of this mighty word-of-mouth recommendation.

Last year’s winner, In Memoriam by Alice Winn, became the bestselling debut of 2023 after announcement.


MARTYR! by Kaveh Akbar

At once playful and highly moving, Martyr! is the first novel from prize winning poet Kaveh Akbar. In electrifying prose, fraught with the kind of quotes you want to remember forever, Akbar tells the story of Cyrus Shams, newly sober and trying to make sense of his life. Thrilling and new, Akbar’s debut handles grief and tragedy with an impressive level of complexity, depth and humour.

THE MINISTRY OF TIME by Kaliane Bradley

An extraordinarily assured debut, The Ministry of Time is set in the near-future and  tells the story of a disaffected civil servant who is offered a lucrative job in a mysterious new government ministry gathering ‘expats’ from across history to test the limits of time-travel. Kaliane Bradley’s debut effortlessly blends love story, time-travelling tale and state-of-the-nation commentary to terrifyingly clever and ferociously funny effect.


The Silence In Between is a sweeping historical novel set in Cold War Berlin and chronicles the story of a mother separated from her baby boy, and the daughter who years later tries to reunite the family. Josie Ferguson’s debut is a quietly powerful study of trauma and hope and an utterly compelling historical fiction.

MONGREL by Hanako Footman

Deftly weaving together the voices of three young women in Japan and the UK, Mongrel  is at once a moving coming of age novel, a sweet and highly relatable story of first love and an examination of place and culture and how they shape us.Mongrel is cinematic and engrossing with an incredibly hard-hitting twist.


Ferdia Lennon subverts all expectations with his incomparable Glorious Exploits set in Sicily in 412 BC. Following two locals and a group of captured Athenian soldiers as they stage one of Euripides’ greatest tragedies, this riotously funny and moving novel is a nod to the recent historical retelling trend whilst offering something surprising and new at every turn.

GRETA & VALDIN by Rebecca K. Reilly

Rebecca K. Reilly’s Greta and Valdin follows the two titular siblings as they navigate  life with the help of their eccentric, chaotic and passionate Maori-Russian-Catalonian family. Set in New Zealand this hilarious and charming novel explores love, family, karaoke, and the generational reverberations of colonialism.

The winner will be announced at an evening ceremony on Thursday 25th July and will receive a prize of £5,000 and the backing of all Waterstones shops and waterstones.com.

For more information, please visit: waterstones.com/category/cultural-highlights/book-awards/the-waterstones-debut-fiction-prize

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