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EVENT REVIEW: Gordon Burn Prize Ceremony

11 October 2015

Durham Town Hall
Friday 9 October 2015


Review by Jowita Krasik

The Gordon Burn Prize is given annually, in October, to a published writer, whose work encompasses the Gordon Burn’s literary methods; experimentation, the blending of fact and fiction, use of different genres. The prize is funded in partnership with The Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North and Faber & Faber. The winner not only gets a £5000 prize but also the opportunity to spend 3 months at Gordon Burn’s cottage for a writing retreat.

This year’s winner was ‘In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Saville by Dan Davies. This book is the product of the author’s obsession with his subject. An in depth account of Saville’s horrendous acts on the time jt took for them to be discovered, it is a truly disturbing yet fascinating book.

The event itself was absolutely astounding; from the beautiful venue to the amazing books nominated for the award.

At the start of the event Lee Brackstone the editor of Faber & Faber gave a wonderful speech about both Gordon Burn’s life and work and the nominated authors’ works. Followed by a short reading from each author as well as an individual Q&A, which made all of the books sound absolutely fantastic! So much so that I wanted to buy and read them all at once!

Right before the announcement of the prize winner there was also a little acoustic music interval by Paul Smith, who prepared a song inspired by Burn’s work. The songs were alluring and wonderful, extremely engaging. There could not have been a more amazing choice of musician to play for the evening.

All in all, it was a great evening, filled with lovely authors and an enthusiastic audience. I sincerely that next year’s event is at least half as amazing as this year.


Jowita Krasik is a Reviewer in Residence at Durham Book Festival.

Reviewers in Residence is a Cuckoo Young Writers programme ,which allows young critics to develop an in-depth relationship with a venue or art form, and take part in exclusively tailored writing masterclasses.