Her first book, Gifted, the story of a girl of Indian descent, deemed to be a maths prodigy in 1980s Wales, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Lalwani was also nominated as Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. In June 2008, Lalwani won the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction. She donated the £10,000 prize to human rights campaigners, Liberty. The novel was adapted as a radio drama for BBC Radio 4 and critically acclaimed: ‘Superb.. brilliantly realised. The searing narrative is unflinchingly and tenderly written, in every sense of the word tender.’ (Independent on Sunday UK) ‘Compelling, heart-wrenching, and laced with redemptive hope. Lalwani’s touching, funny, finely calibrated novel brings [things] alive with urgency and poignancy… and in doing so becomes a paean to a vanished childhood.’ (The Observer (UK) 2007)
Lalwani's second book, The Village, modelled on an open prison in Rajasthan was published in 2012 and selected as one of eight titles for the Fiction Uncovered campaign for the best of British fiction in 2013 garnering reviews internationally. ... a masterclass in compression (The Guardian UK), ..(an) extraordinary novel ( The Times UK) One of the novel’s great strengths is how it maintains an ambience of mystery and menace, partly due to the secrecy shrouding the inmates. “The Village” is not so much a portrait of a village, but a hard look at the quest for the true and the real.( New York Times)
Her third novel You People revolves around a London restaurant and its enigmatic proprietor, a powerful figure who is known for offering under-the-counter loans, legal aid and safe passage under the banners of altruism and compassion. It will be published by Viking UK in Spring 2020. Her short story Two for One, set during the 2011 England Riots is part of Resist:Stories of Uprising for publication in 2019.
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- The 2008 Prize, Desmond Elliott Prize
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