Join us for a very special opening to Durham Book Festival as we announce the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize 2016. We will be joined on the evening by some of the shortlisted writers, who will read from their work. The Gordon Burn Prize celebrates a bold, innovative approach to writing, with both fiction and non-fiction represented on the shortlist. The prize has been judged by novelists Jenn Ashworth and William Boyd, journalist and writer Rachel Cooke, and artist and author Harland Miller, all of whom sought writing that embodies the spirit and sensibility of Gordon Burn’s own bold and innovative literary methods. The prize is a partnership between Durham Book Festival, New Writing North, Faber & Faber and the Gordon Burn Trust.
Featuring a special musical performance from Richard Dawson.
Chaired by Peter Guttridge
This year’s shortlisted titles
A Woman on the Edge of Time: A Son’s Search For His Mother by Jeremy Gavron
It’s 1965, and in Primrose Hill, a beautiful young woman has just gassed herself to death, leaving behind a suicide note, two small children, and an about-tobe-published manuscript: The Captive Wife. Like Sylvia Plath, who died in eerily similar circumstances two years earlier just two streets away, Hannah Gavron was a writer. Bright, sophisticated, and swept up in the progressive politics of the 1960s, Hannah was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur. Surrounded by success, she seemed to live a gilded life. But there was another side to Hannah, as Jeremy Gavron’s searching memoir of his mother reveals.
The Lonely City: Adventures in The Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? When Olivia Laing moved to New York in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives – from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone.
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
In Moshfegh’s novel, the Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s carer in his squalid home and her day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. When the charismatic Rebecca Saint John arrives as the new counsellor at the prison, Eileen is enchanted and unable to resist what appears to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.
Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker
Captain Tom Barnes is leading British troops in a war zone. On all sides of this conflict, people are about to be caught up in the violence, from the man who trains one boy to fight the infidel invaders to Barnes’s family waiting for him to return home. We see them not as they see themselves, but as all the objects surrounding them do: shoes and boots, a helmet, a trove of dollars, a drone, an exploding IED and the medical implements that are subsequently employed. Anatomy of a Soldier is a novel about one man’s journey of survival and the experiences of those around him.
All That Man Is by David Szalay
Nine men. Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them is striving – in the suburbs of Prague, beside a Belgian motorway, in a cheap Cypriot hotel – to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing an arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show men as they are. And as the years chase them down, the stakes become bewilderingly high in this piercing portrayal of 21st century manhood.
And the Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany
On 15 April 1989, 96 people were fatally injured on a football terrace at an FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield. The Hillsborough disaster was broadcast live on the BBC; it left millions of people traumatised, and English football in ruins. And the Sun Shines Now is a book about what arrived in the wake of the most controversial tragedy in the post-war era of Britain’s history. The Taylor Report. Italia 90. Gazza’s tears. Sky. The Premier League. And the transformation of a game that once connected club to community to individual into a global business so rapacious the true fans have been forgotten, disenfranchised.
Friday 7 October,
Durham Town Hall
£10/£8 (includes a Durham Gin and tonic courtesy of Durham Distillery)This event has passed