The 2015 Goldsmiths Prize for fiction has been awarded to Kevin Barry’s Beatlebone, a novel which imagines John Lennon taking a course of screaming therapy on an island off the West Coast of Ireland.
Judges praised the work, set in 1978, for its “stunning lyric and cerebral intensity”.
The prize of £10,000 is intended to reward fiction that “that breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel form”. It was established in 2013 by Goldsmiths in association with the New Statesman magazine.
“I never have a plan”, Barry said of his writing process. “I just go into my shed and go slowly nuts and see what comes out.” Beatlebone is his second novel.
Goldsmiths Professor Josh Cohen, chair of the judging panel, said: “Intricately weaving and blurring fiction and life, Beatlebone embodies beautifully this prize’s spirit of creative risk. We’re proud to call it our winner.”
Barry was announced as the 2015 winner yesterday at a ceremony at Foyle’s Bookshop in London.
The all-male shortlist selected from 101 works submitted for the judge’s consideration also included Richard Beard for Acts of the Assassins, Tom McCarthy for Satin Island, Magnus Mills for The Field of the Cloth of Gold, Max Porter for Grief is the Thing With Feathers and Adam Thirlwell for Lurid & Cute.
Barry said it felt “really cool” to win the award, especially against competitors who write “truly amazing” books.
Last year Ali Smith took the prize for her dual narrative novel How to be Both, which went on to win the Costa Award and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Smith said in September that the Goldsmiths Prize has already changed the book industry by leading publishers to take risks on works which are much more experimental.
Novels written in English by citizens of the UK or Republic of Ireland are eligible.
Professor Cohen was joined on the judging panel this year by Eimear McBride (who won the first Goldsmiths Prize for her novel A Girl is Half-formed Thing), author Jon McGregor, and lead New Statesman fiction reviewer Leo Robson.
By Rosie Slater