From a veteran author to an ex-Wall Street banker’s first novel, the six shortlisted books selected for the Goldsmiths Prize for fiction 2014 were announced yesterday, and the race for the £10,000 prize is now on.
For the second year running, Goldsmiths University of London is partnering up with the New Statesman to recognise and award innovative fiction.
Of the 119 books that were submitted, the six shortlisted were:
Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber & Faber)
The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves (CB Editions)
J by Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
In The Light Of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman (Picador)
How To Be Both by Ali Smith (Penguin)
The works were shortlisted by lecturer and Chair of Judges Francis Spufford, authors Kirsty Gunn and Geoff Dyer, and New Statesman Culture Editor Tom Gatti.
Spufford said: ‘The Goldsmiths Prize rewards innovation in the form of the novel, a process with as many possible directions as there are writers settling down to their keyboards. We expected to be surprised, and we were; we expected to compare wildly dissimilar successes, and we did.”
Ex-Wall Street banker and human rights lawyer Zia Haider Rahman’s submission is an echo of the author’s impressively eventful life, and has been met with widely positive reviews. Rhaman’s debut novel tells the story of a British-Bangladeshi, a nod to the author’s own cultural background and the first of many reflections. The Telegraph said of Rhaman’s debut novel: ‘One has to applaud the intelligence on display. Every reader will find light thrown on something they did not know.”
Experienced novelist Will Eaves’ submission has also been well received, and has seen very positive reviews from several publications. The Guardian said: The whole book is like someone deeply charismatic and charming dating you not to find them insane. It’s wonderful”.
Eaves’ novel involves a collection of mini-narratives, and often borders on poetry, making it a unique take on the traditional novel that is appreciated and encouraged by the Goldsmiths Prize.
Tom Gatti, Culture Editor of the New Statesman said: “The New Statesman has always been a home for innovative prose. So we are delighted to continue our partnership with the Goldsmiths Prize and reward those novelists bold enough to forge new paths for the form.”
Veteran novelist Rachel Cusk, who is the author of 8 previous works, tells the story of a woman who travels to Athens to become the teacher of a writing course. Using the conversations the protagonist shares with her acquaintances, Cusk shapes the identity of the narrator in a wholly unique way.
Ali Smith and Howard Jacobson have both been shortlisted for another book award this year, the Man Booker Prize. Both have been shortlisted for the prize before, but only Jacobson has been successful, winning with his book The Finkler Question in 2010. This is the third time Smith has received a nomination for the Man Booker award.
Paul Kingsnorth’s crowd funded novel, longlisted for the Booker award, tells the story of guerrilla fighters who formed a resistance against the Normans, after the invasion of 1066. Written in a language that was constructed by Kingsnorth himself, the novel is unlike anything Kingsnorth has written before.
Spufford also added: “We’re delighted to have ended up with a shortlist that captures so much of the versatility with which the novel, these days, is being stretched, knotted, rejigged, re-invented.”
Eimear McBride, who won the award last year with ‘A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing’ has since then won Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, despite being rejected by publishers for years.
The six authors will be reading extracts from their works Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre later in October.
The winner will be announced on 12 November at Foyles Bookshop in Charing Cross Road.
For more information on Goldsmiths Prize and the shortlisted writers visit the Goldsmiths website.