Gwendoline Riley wins the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize 2017 for fiction

Gwendoline Riley’s First Love has won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize 2017 for fiction. This year’s judges were Lorien Kite, Susie Nicklin and Evie Wyld.

Evie Wyld, on behalf of the judges, said: ’First Love was our unanimous winner. It’s a book of nerve endings and often brutal truthfulness. It’s slim but has a powerful gravitational field, each word placed with expert care. In its unpicking of an abusive relationship, it feels  both powerfully urgent and a novel that will be studied for years for its beauty, horror and humour.


About the author

Gwendoline Riley was born in 1979, and grew up on the Wirral. She is the author of Cold Water, Sick Notes, Joshua Spassky, Opposed Positions and First Love. Her writing has won a Betty Trask Award and a Somerset Maugham Award, and has been shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She lives in London.

About the judges

Lorien Kite is Deputy Life & Arts Editor at the Financial Times. He was the Financial Times’s books editor from 2011 to April this year and has previously judged the Samuel Johnson (now Baillie Gifford) and Orwell prizes.
Susie Nicklin is CEO of the MILD Group, which comprises the Marsh Agency, the Indigo Press, Live Lit events and festivals, and Dulwich Books. Former roles include the Director of English PEN and the Director of Literature at the British Council. She is also a Trustee of the English Association and a criteria assessor for the REF 2021.


Evie Wyld was born in London and grew up in Australia and South London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers. In 2013 she was included on Granta magazine’s once-a-decade Best of Young British Novelists list. Her second novel All the Birds, Singing won the Miles Franklin Award, the Encore Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, and longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. She runs Review, a small independent bookshop in Peckham, South London.


About the prize

The Prize of £1,500 is awarded annually, and it is given, in alternate years, for a volume of verse and for a volume of prose fiction, by a writer aged 40 or under.

Previous winners

1964       Christopher Middleton and George Macbeth (joint)

1965       Frank Tuohy

1966       Jon Silkin

1967       William McIlvanney and John Noone (joint)

1968       Seamus Heaney

1969       Piers Paul Read

1970       Geoffrey Hill

1971       J. G. Farrell

1972       Tony Harrison

1973       David Storey

1974       John Fuller

1975       Richard Wright

1976       Douglas Dunn

1977       Carolyn Slaughter

1978       David Harsent and Kit Wright (joint)

1979       Timothy Mo

1980       Hugo Williams and George Szirtes (joint)

1981       J. M. Coetzee

1982       Tom Paulin and Paul Muldoon (joint)

1983       Graham Swift

1984       James Fenton

1985       Julian Barnes

1986       David Scott

1987       Guy Vanderhaeghe

1988       Michael Hofmann

1989       David Profumo

1990       Michael Donaghy

1991       Carol Birch

1992       Paul Muldoon

1993       Will Self

1994       John Burnside

1995       Livi Michael

1996       Kathleen Jamie

1997       Emily Perkins

1998       Don Paterson

1999       Gavin Kramer

2000       Kathleen Jamie

2001       Trezza Azzopardi

2002       Greta Stoddart

2003       Justin Hill

2004       Glyn Maxwell

2005       David Mitchell

2006       Alice Oswald

2007       Ed Docx

2008       Nick Laird

2009       David Szalay

2010       Kona Macphee

2011       Belinda McKeon

2012       Jacob Polley

2013       Eimear McBride

2014       Fiona Benson and Liz Berry

2015       Sara Baume

2016       Kim Moore