Join us for a celebratory evening as we introduce the shortlisted titles and announce the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize 2018.
The evening will include readings by the shortlisted writers and a discussion of their work, chaired by broadcaster and journalist Mark Lawson. The announcement of the prize will be followed by an exclusively commissioned piece of music, written and performed by Andrew Weatherall, which responds to Gordon Burn’s legacy.
The Gordon Burn Prize celebrates daring works of fiction and non-fiction from the UK and US, with the winning writer awarded £5000 and a writing retreat. This year’s prize has been judged by critic and journalist Alex Clark, chair of the judges; poet and author Kei Miller; artist Gillian Wearing; and musician Andrew Weatherall.
This year’s shortlist is:
H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker
Nicola Barker’s twelfth novel, H(a)ppy, is a stylistically innovative story set in a dystopian future where perfected humans have their dreams, thoughts and everyday actions recorded and shared with one another. Within this world Mira A is beginning to tentatively question why she is merely h(a)ppy. Untethered by convention, Nicola Barker’s fascinating novel envisions where its relationship with technology may one day lead our species.
Census by Jesse Ball
US writer Jesse Ball has written more than ten books of prose and poetry, but Census is his first UK publication. The novel follows a father and son as they travel across a nameless landscape in the wake of the father’s terminal diagnosis. As their story progresses, we discover more about the remarkable boy and his condition, and the love and understanding between a father and his child. Jesse Ball was included in Granta: Best of Young American Novelists in 2017.
In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne
Guy Gunaratne’s ambitious debut, In Our Mad and Furious City is set on a London estate during the tense and unsettled summer days following the murder of a British soldier. Tracing the passions, dreams and pains of lifelong friends Selvon, Yusuf and Ardan, the novel bristles with energy as it explores an estate where football, grime, sex and radicalism are explosively propelled towards each other.
Crudo by Olivia Laing
Following three works of non-fiction, Olivia Laing’s Crudo is an intimate, funny novel, set during the tumultuous summer of 2017. Kathy – who may or may not be countercultural icon Kathy Acker – has just turned 40 and is assessing her life choices while trying to enjoy her honeymoon, in spite of an impending sense of apocalypse. Olivia Laing’s previous books, The Trip to Echo Spring and The Lonely City, were shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize in 2014 and 2016.
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy’s elegiac memoir is a meditation on what it means to be alive. In a deeply reflective and personal account, Levy examines afresh her life, the relationships closest to her and what it is to be a woman and a writer. In precise and candid language, she describes the fallout following the breakup of her marriage and the seismic impact of her mother’s death. Deborah Levy’s six celebrated novels include Swimming Home and Hot Milk, both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is an utterly gripping account of journalist Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the Golden State Killer, a serial murderer who remained undetected by authorities for decades. McNamara’s book takes the reader deep into both her subject and her own obsessive pursuit of the truth. This compelling book is a landmark in true-crime writing that is underscored by the early death of its author, who passed away while still writing and researching her story.