Women dominate Goldsmiths Prize shortlist

This year’s Goldsmiths Prize shortlist has been announced, featuring novels exploring topics from redemption, identity, the process of upheaval, and a candidly close, darkly comic exploration into the mind of a sex offender.

Transit by Rachel Cusk, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy and Martin John by Anakana Schofield will compete for the prestigious £10,000 prize.

The mostly female group of authors makes a change from last year’s all-male shortlist, featuring a second nomination for Eimear McBride.

Her age-gap love story The Lesser Bohemians follows her last 2013 Goldsmiths Prize-winning debut novel A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing.

McBride’s winning novel was written when she was just 27, however, she resubmitted it to publishers nine years later following its initial rejection. Her prize-winning debut covered a young woman’s relationship with her brother, who is suffering from the effects of a brain tumour. It explored themes of sexuality, girlhood, and Catholicism. 

The prize was established in 2013, aiming to “celebrate the spirit of creative daring associated with Goldsmiths, University of London”.

The judging panel was made up of Chair of Judges Professor Blake Morrison and writers Bernadine Evaristo, Erica Wagner and Joanna Walsh. 

Professor Morrison, Professor of Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London said: “Innovative novels used to suffer from the stigma of ‘difficulty’ but one thing we’ve learned since the Goldsmiths Prize was launched four years ago is what a large and responsive readership they reach.

“Narrowed down from an entry of 111 titles, it’s a list the judges arrived at without rancour or compromise, and one that demonstrates the healthy state of British and Irish fiction today.”

The judges chose from submissions from authors from the UK and Republic of Ireland that are published within the same calendar year. 

The other winners were Ali Smith in 2014 for How to Be Both and Kevin Barry in 2015 for Beatlebone, who told Eastlondonlines that it felt “really cool” to win the award, especially against competitors who write “truly amazing” books.  How to Be Both used a unique format. It was novel that covered two perspectives and was published in two versions, with the order of perspectives swapped in each. Beatlebone depicted a fictional John Lennon taking a course of screaming therapy on the island he owned off the West Coast of Ireland.

The Goldsmiths Prize was founded by Goldsmiths, University of London, in association with the New Statesman, and was announced at the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize/ New Statesman lecture delivered by author Howard Jacobson.   

The winner will be announced on November 9, 2016 at a ceremony at Foyles, a bookstore in central London. For more information on the prize visit www.gold.ac.uk/goldsmiths-prize.

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