The shortlist for the second annual Gordon Burn Prize was announced at the official launch of the Durham Book Festival programme at Durham Castle last night (12 August).
The prize, run in partnership by New Writing North, Faber & Faber, and the Gordon Burn Trust, was conceived to pay tribute to the legacy of the late author. An incisive, undaunted writer, Newcastle-born Burn was a literary polymath, writing forensically on subjects ranging from celebrity to serial killers, politics to contemporary art, sport to the media. The Gordon Burn Prize seeks to recognise writers whose work follows in his fearless footsteps: authors whose novels enter history to interrogate the past, and non-fiction writers brave enough to recast characters to create a new and vivid reality.
The shortlist is:
The Valley by Richard Benson (Bloomsbury)
The Kills by Richard House (Picador)
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing (Canongate)
American Interior by Gruff Rhys (Hamish Hamilton)
The Free by Willy Vlautin (Faber & Faber)
The winner will be announced on 10 October at a special event at Durham Book Festival at 6.30pm in Durham Town Hall, with the shortlisted authors reading from their work.
The judges for the 2014 prize are comedian, actor and musician Julian Barratt, poet John Burnside, artist Sarah Lucas, and novelist Benjamin Myers, winner of the 2013 Gordon Burn Prize.
Richard Benson is the author of the number one bestseller, The Farm, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2005, and a 2006 Richard and Judy book club choice. Richard Benson lives in London.
Richard House is an author, film maker, artist and university teacher. He has written two previous novels (Bruiser and Uninvited) which were published by Serpent’s Tail in the 1990s. He is a member of Chicago-based collaborative, Haha. He is the editor of a digital magazine, Fatboy Review.
Paul Kingsnorth is the author of two non-fiction books, One No, Many Yeses (2003) and the highly acclaimed Real England (2008), as well as a collection of poetry, Kidland (2011). A former journalist and deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine, he has won several awards for his poetry and essays. In 2009, he co-founded the Dark Mountain Project, an international network of writers, artists and thinkers in search of new stories for troubled times. Much of his writing can be found online at www.paulkingsnorth.net. The Wake is his first novel.
Olivia Laing’s first book,To the River, was a book of the year in the Evening Standard, Independent and Financial Times and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The Trip to Echo Spring has been shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2014 Transmission Prize, was widely reviewed and was also a book of the year in The Times, The Observer, Metro, Economist and Times Literary Supplement. Olivia is the former deputy books editor of The Observer.
Gruff Rhys is known around the world for his work as a solo artist as well as singer and songwriter with Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon, and for his collaborations with Gorillaz, Mogwai, Dangermouse and Sparklehorse amongst others. The latest album by Neon Neon, Praxis Makes Perfect, based on the life of radical Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, was recently performed as an immersive live concert with National Theatre Wales.
Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Willy Vlautin started playing guitar and writing songs as a teenager and quickly became immersed in music. It was a Paul Kelly song, based on Raymond Carver’s Too Much Water So Close to Home that inspired him to start writing stories. Vlautin has published three novels, The Motel Life (2006), which was made into a film starring Stephen Dorff and Dakota Fanning, Northline (2008) and Lean on Pete (2010), which was shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Vlautin founded the band Richmond Fontaine in 1994. The band has produced nine studio albums to date, plus a handful of live recordings and EPs.