At a special event at Durham Book Festival we announced the winner of the third annual Gordon Burn Prize, which is run in partnership by New Writing North, Faber & Faber and the Gordon Burn Trust.
Dan Davies was chosen as the winner for his book In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile by the judging panel, which was comprised of authors Roddy Doyle and Doug Johnstone, journalist Suzanne Moore, actor Maxine Peake and artist Gavin Turk.
Actor Maxine Peake said:
‘Dan Davies’ book is forensically detailed, compelling and admirably objective in the extreme. This is so much more than a book about the monster that is Savile. It’s about grotesque social attitudes towards the famous and money. It also pinpoints the collective culpability we all share in allowing these people to offend and operate.’
Doug Johnstone, author of Gone Again and The Jump, said:
‘In Plain Sight is a phenomenal and important piece of work, a clear-eyed examination of a terrifying personality and the complicit culture that allowed him to get away with extraordinary evil. Dan Davies has dug deep to produce one of the finest examples of investigative journalism I’ve ever read.’
The Gordon Burn Trust said:
‘The shortlist was of extremely high quality, and each book was appreciated by the judges for its own particular excellence. In the end however one book stood out as a perfect fit for the prize, and as an outstanding achievement in any terms. The Trust has been very excited by the sheer brilliance of the entries, and also at the breadth of subjects tackled. We look forward with enthusiasm to what may come next.’
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 national magazines, newspapers and websites. He has been editor of Esquire Weekly, having been the magazine’s Deputy Editor and Acting Editor, a Features Editor at the Mail on Sunday, Deputy Editor of Jack, and a features writer for the Guardian Guide, Live Magazine, Mr Porter and many others.
The Gordon Burn Prize was founded in 2012 to celebrate the legacy of the late author. A fearless and forensic writer, Newcastle-born Burn was a literary polymath, who wrote in depth on subjects ranging from celebrity to serial killers, politics to contemporary art, sport to the media. The Gordon Burn Prize seeks to illuminate the work of those writers whose work follows in his bold footsteps.
The shortlist is:
• In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile by Dan Davies (Quercus)
• Midland by Honor Gavin (Penned in the Margins)
• Noon Tide Toll by Romesh Gunesekera (Granta Books)
• Original Rockers by Richard King (Faber & Faber)
• Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev (Faber & Faber)
In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
Savile was one of the first British celebrities, a man who was famous for being famous, yet he had the ear of princes, prime ministers and popes. Dan Davies spent more than a decade on a quest to find the real Jimmy Savile, and interviewed him extensively over a period of six years before his death.
Constructed of three interlocking timelines: Savile’s kaleidoscopic and secretive life, itself an alternative history of post-war popular culture; Davies’ interviews, which lasted for days at a time, and the dynamics of the relationship that developed from them; and everything that we have learned since his death, including a forensic dissection of the numerous official inquiries the book seeks to understand who this man was, and how he made himself so conspicuous while remaining so elusive.
Further praise for In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile:
‘Stunning, in every sense of the word. In Plain Sight is a singular and towering book that stands shoulder to shoulder with The Executioner’s Song and Happy like Murderers as a masterpiece.’ David Peace
‘A compulsive, colourful and chilling read.’ Sunday Times
‘It’s gripping, electrifying, forensically researched and as close to a monster as you’ll ever want to get.’ Esquire