6 - 14 October 2018
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Gordon Burn Prize


The Gordon Burn Prize was founded in 2012 to celebrate the legacy of the late Gordon Burn and to champion work – fearless non-fiction and bold, genre-defying fiction – that follows in his footsteps.

The Gordon Burn Prize is a partnership between the Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North, Durham Book Festival and Faber & Faber. The winning writer receives a cheque for £5,000 and is offered the opportunity to undertake a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders.

This year’s prize has been judged by critic and journalist Alex Clark; poet and author Kei Miller; artist Gillian Wearing; and musician Andrew Weatherall.

Shortlist 2018

Jesse Ball

US-based 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 named a Granta Best of Young American Novelists in 2017.

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 – where there is no sickness or death, where people understand each other with precision – 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.

Guy Gunaratne
In Our Mad and Furious City

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, Ardan and Yusuf, as well as the stories of a previous generation told by Mary and Nelson, the novel bristles with energy as it explores an estate where football, grime, sex and radicalism are explosively propelled towards each other.

Olivia Laing

Following three works of non-fiction, Olivia Laing’s Crudo is an intimate, funny novel, which was written in real time during the tumultuous summer of 2017. Kathy – who may or may not be countercultural icon Kathy Acker – has just tuned forty 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.

Deborah Levy
The Cost of Living

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 celebrated six novels include Swimming Home and Hot Milk, both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Michelle McNamara
I'll Be Gone in the Dark

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 expert handling of her story 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.

Previous Winners

Denise Mina
The Long Drop (2017)

Denise Mina has published 12 novels including the Garnethill series, Paddy Meehan and Alex Morrow series. She has been nominated for many prizes including the CWA Gold Dagger and has won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award twice. In addition to novels, Denise has also written plays and graphic novels including the graphic novel adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In 2014, she was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame and was a judge for the Bailey’s Prize. She has also presented TV and radio programmes as well as appearing regularly in the media. She lives and works in Glasgow.

David Szalay
All That Man Is (2016)

David Szalay is the author of three previous novels: SpringThe Innocent and London and the South-East, for which he was awarded the Betty Trask and Geoffrey Faber Memorial prizes. In 2013 he was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.

Dan Davies
In Plain Sight (2015)

Dan Davies is a journalist, author and editor with more than twenty years’ experience as a senior staffer and freelance contributor on a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and websites. Twice shortlisted as BSME Magazine Writer of the Year, he has been Deputy Editor and Acting Editor of Esquire, Editor of Esquire Weekly, a Features Editor at the Mail on Sunday, Deputy Editor of Jack magazine, and a feature writer for the Guardian GuideLive Magazine, The Journal on MrPorter.com and many others.

Paul Kingsnorth
The Wake (2014)

Paul Kingsnorth is the author of two non-fiction books, One No, Many Yeses and Real England, a collection of poetry, Kidland, and two novels. His first novel, The Wake, which won the Gordon Burn Prize 2014, was set during the Norman Conquest of England and written entirely in its own language – a version of Old English. Paul is also the co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project, an international network of writers, artists and thinkers which aims to challenge the stories our civilisation tells about itself.

Benjamin Myers
Pig Iron (2013)

Benjamin Myers was born in Durham. His novel Beastings (2014) won the Portico Prize For Literature and a Northern Writers’ Award and was longlisted for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Other works include Pig Iron (2012), which won the Gordon Burn Prize 2013 and Richard (2010), a bestseller chosen by the Sunday Times as one of its books of the year. His journalism, non-fiction and poetry have also been widely published. He lives in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.


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