Single sentence novel wins 2016 Goldsmiths Prize

Author Mike McCormack with the award for the Goldsmiths Prize 2016. Pic: Kevin Moran

Author Mike McCormack with the award for the Goldsmiths Prize 2016. Pic: Kevin Moran

A single sentence novel has won this years’ £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize.

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack unfolds in one continuous sentence and was praised by judges as being both compelling and formally inventive.

The novel takes place over a few hours in 2008’s Feast of All Souls celebration, which is a Catholic remembrance of the dead.

The narrator, a middle-aged engineer from County Mayo in west Ireland, examines the “rites, rhythms and rituals / upholding the world like solar bones” in his small town.

One of the judges on the panel, Professor Blake Morrison of Goldsmiths, University of London, which is based in New Cross, said: “Solar Bones transcends [its] seeming limits magnificently.”

“Politics, family, art, marriage, health, civic duty and the environment are just a few of the themes it touches on, in a prose that’s lyrical yet firmly rooted.”

Solar Bones beat six other novels on the final shortlist, including Hot Milk by Deborah Levy and Transit by Rachel Cusk.

McCormack is the third Irish winner since the prize, run in association with the New Statesman, was launched four years ago. The previous winners are Ali Smith, Eimear McBride and Kevin Barry.

Morrison said that this year’s shortlist had the “desire to push boundaries and take risks. Dark areas are explored with a lightness of touch. And serious themes broached (love, sexuality, family, ageing, physical illness, mental distress) with no loss of humour or irony”.

Tramp Press, an Irish independent publishing house, published Solar Bones. The prize followed other recognitions for McCormack, including the 1996 Rooney Prize for Irish literature, and a 2006 novel shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award.

Nonetheless, he has previously been described as a “disgracefully neglected writer” by The Irish Times.

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