Page last updated at 23:51 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 00:51 UK

Three novelists vie for 10,000 Desmond Elliott prize

Maria Allen taken by Richard Tatham, Jacob Polley taken by C.Sandy Friend
Jacob Polley, Maria Allen and Ali Shaw and will find out if they have won in June.

A former bookseller, an acclaimed poet and a teacher have made the final shortlist for the Desmond Elliott prize for first time novelists.

Bookmakers have made Before the Earthquake by teacher Maria Allen favourite to win the £10,000 prize.

Talk of the Town by poet Jacob Polley and The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw make up the shortlist.

The prize was set up in 2007 in honour of the publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, who died in 2003.

The three shortlisted books cover a range of genres from a coming-of-age tale to historical fiction and magical realism.

"Bold, original and ambitious"

The judging panel is made up of writer Elizabeth Buchan, literary editor of The Observer William Skidelsky and leading independent bookseller James Daunt.

Speaking on behalf of the judges, Elizabeth Buchan said: "We were struck by the boldness, originality and ambition of the three finalists."

She continued: "With settings ranging from early twentieth century southern Italy, to Carlisle in the 1980s to the mysterious St Hauda's Land, their novels make up a diverse, intriguing and hugely rewarding shortlist."

The winner is announced on 23 June at Fortnum & Mason, in London.

Author Edward Hogan won last year's prize for his novel Blackmoor, set in a fictional mining village against the backdrop of the miners' strike.

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