Friday, 24 June 2011

A Dashing Duo of Literary Delights: The Desmond Elliott First novel, and The Times Literary Supplement Summer Party

You wait all day for a literary party, and then three come along at once. Last night was positively abounding with them: I only managed to go to two, which is extremely unlike me I know, but you have to draw the line somewhere. The first was the Desmond Elliott First novel award. There was a strong shortlist, including Ned Beauman's Boxer, Beetle; (the longlist had on it both Jonathan Lee's Who is Mr Satoshi? and Leo Benedictus' The Afterparty); the gong was gonged to Anjali Joseph's Saraswati Park, which I haven't read yet, but now most certainly intend to. Edward Stourton was the gonger.  The party was in Fortnum and Masons, which meant the best sausages and mash and excellent champagne, whilst young literary types (including Jonathan Lee, and the dashing brace of Literary Review editors, Tom Fleming and Jonathan Beckman) quaffed ale (well, champagne) and I wish I could have stayed longer but I couldn't because...

... then it was a dash up the dashing Jubilee line to the imposing house of Peter Stothard for the TLS Summer Party. It was in an enormous marquee which covered the back garden. I spotted Ferdinand Mount in a very smart seersucker jacket; although it was eclipsed by a man in a blue and white checked suit who was wearing a bow tie; and a very small old man (who I think was a poet) who was wearing a purple suit that looked like it had been made out of the tablecloths. Miniburgers were the order of the day. Soon-to-be-novelist Cressida Connolly was there; I'm sure there were lots of other lights of the literary scene but I was having too much fun perching on the rim of the pond and trying not to fall in whilst holding a champagne glass. Novelist Anna Stothard was there, of course, and the young editor of the White Review, Jacques Testard. I misplaced my bag, more than once.

I think we went to a pizza restaurant afterwards. The other party was beyond me. It was Hodder Headline, in a church in Marylebone, and apparently there were chicken shish kebabs, but I think mini-burgers are better, don't you?


  1. Are you sure you were at the Desmond Elliott? I was, and I didn't see you. It was quite a small room...

  2. I was only there until the announcements and then I ran off to the TLS.