Awards: Desmond Elliott, Commonwealth Short Story Overall Winners

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer has won the £10,000 (about $11,940) 2022 Desmond Elliott Prize, which celebrates the best first novel published in the U.K. or Ireland.

Organizers called Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies "a lyrical exploration of one woman's body and the illness that inhabits it."

Chair of judges Derek Owusu said, "This is a book full of poetry and wonder, interior and exterior examination, sadness, though without the pessimism that sometimes accompanies it, love, and through all things, hope. You'll re-read passages like pulling a song back to its start, wanting to evoke and experience those chills, or be enlightened again and again. Though not easy to choose a winner--we went back and forth for days after the decision was due--when we finally came to an agreement, we felt confident that we would be assisting with, and bearing witness to, the launching of a new and spectacular talent."


Ntsika Kota was named overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and will receive £5,000 (about $6,135) for his work "and the earth drank deep." Kota is the first person from Eswatini to take the prize.

Chair of judges Fred D'Aguiar said: "This year's winner is an instant classic: a linear narrative in the tradition of the realist short story. The events unfold around a central ethical conceit with tension that accumulates, and a surprise ending leaves the reader with many questions and in a state of provocation. The deceitfully simple and straightforward style rubs against an artful orchestration of tension. The writer controls elements of character and plot to captivate the most skeptical of readers. The reader inherits a host of hot topics for discussion at the end of the story all of which shine back at the reader's world. Like the best parables the result is an interplay between story and reality, invention and the quotidian, the writer's imagination and the world of the reader."

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