Announcing the winners of the Desmond Elliott Residencies
Three debut novelists receive exciting residency opportunity as legacy of the Desmond Elliott Prize

We are delighted to announce the winners of the Desmond Elliott Residencies: Santanu Bhattacharya, author of One Small Voice (Fig Tree), Carole Hailey, author of The Silence Project (Atlantic/Corvus) and Csilla Toldy, author of Bed Table Door (Wrecking Ball Press).

The Desmond Elliott Residencies were open to fiction writers based in the UK or Ireland who published their first novel between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023. Each writer will spend a fully funded week at the NCW Cottage, Dragon Hall in the heart of Norwich.

A legacy of the Desmond Elliott Prize, the residencies support writers at the beginning of their careers, offering the space and time to write and the opportunity to connect with Norwich’s literature community.

Laura Stimson, NCW Programme Manager, said:

‘It is wonderful to support early career authors through the legacy of the Desmond Elliott Prize. In this age of overload and distraction it’s increasingly hard for writers to dedicate time and money to their art. With writing time at the heart of this residency, and no financial commitment to the writer, it feels especially important to offer this opportunity. We look forward to welcoming Carole, Csilla and Santanu to our home here at Dragon Hall.’

Discover more about our three winners below.

Santanu Bhattacharya

Santanu Bhattacharya is the author of One Small Voice (Penguin Fig Tree), an Observer Best Debut Novel for 2023. He grew up in India, and studied at the University of Oxford and National University of Singapore. Santanu is the winner of the 2021 Mo Siewcharran Prize, the Life Writing Prize and a London Writers’ Award. His works have nominated for the 4thWrite Prize, Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award, and Pontas/JJ Bola Emerging Writers’ Prize. His short fiction have appeared in Commonwealth Writers’ adda and TOKEN magazines. He is a graduate of the Tin House Writers’ Workshop. He currently lives in London. @santanu_bx on Instagram and Twitter.

He said:

‘I am so thrilled that my novel One Small Voice made an impact, and grateful for this very special opportunity to immerse myself in writing, and to spend time in the city of Norwich among literature enthusiasts!’

Santanu will be in residence between 21 August – 31 August.

Carole Hailey

Carole Hailey completed the six-month Guardian/UEA novel writing course taught by Bernardine Evaristo, who imbued Carole with such a love for writing fiction that she abandoned her career in law to undertake an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, followed by a PhD in Creative Writing at Swansea  University. Carole was a London Library Emerging Writer 2020/21. Her debut novel The Silence Project was published in February 2023 by Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books. It is a 2023 BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick and a Kindle No. 1 Bestseller and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award. Carole lives in Wales with her husband and two rescue dogs.

She said:

‘I am incredibly grateful to have won a Desmond Elliott Prize residency. The opportunity to spend time at Dragon Hall Cottage could not come at a more welcome time in my fledgling career as an author. Having my debut novel published earlier this year was a wonderful experience but I’m now focusing on my next project and I’m very excited to have an opportunity to work on it at the National Centre for Writing.’

Carole will be in residence between 31 July – 7 August.

Csilla Toldy

Csilla Toldy is a writer and translator. Originally from Hungary, she has lived in the United Kingdom since arriving with a writer’s visa in 1996. She has an MA in creative writing for film and television (Sheffield University 2003) and won the Hartley-Merrill and Katapult Prizes with her scripts. Her publications include poetry, short stories and essays in various UK and Irish literary magazines, as well as three poetry pamphlets: Red Roots – Orange Sky (2013), The Emigrant Woman’s Tale (2015) and Vertical Montage (2018) all published with Lapwing Belfast. Her short stories were compiled in Angel Fur and other stories (Stupor Mundi, 2019). Her debut novel Bed Table Door, explores the idea of freedom against the backdrop of the Cold War between socialist Hungary and Thatcher’s England (Wrecking Ball Press, 2023).

Toldy’s first novel for adults, Bed Table Door was published with Wrecking Ball in 2023. She said:

‘I am deeply honoured and delighted to receive this residency for my novel Bed Table Door, which deals with issues of personal and political freedom in a divided world during the nineteen-eighties. The novel had an awfully long journey to achieve publication, partly because of my personal circumstances – having to work for a living while I am writing.  Without the courage of my publisher Shane Rhodes at Wrecking Ball Press, I would not be here. This prize acknowledges the work of indie publishers who discover and provide a platform for new voices in publishing. They are heavily reliant on public funding, which I hope will never dry out. Many thanks to the National  Centre for Writing who established this prize in the name of the late Desmond Elliot, supporting debut novelists. This residency will provide me with the space and time to focus on my next project, for which I am immensely grateful.’

Csilla will be in residence between 9 August – 18 August.

For more information on the Desmond Elliott Prize and Season of Debuts, click here.

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