Review: The Announcement of the Gordon Burn Prize 2022

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by Megan Howick 

An amazing opening to Durham Book Festival, celebrating the announcement of the Gordon Burn Prize.  

Five incredible readings from the short list, which included: About a Son (David Whitehouse), Aftermath (Preti Taneja), Constructing A Nervous System (Margo Jefferson), Free (Lea Ypi) and Case Study (Graeme Macrae Burnet), emphasised a new understanding of life explained through literature, voicing to their audiences concerns  that currently on people’s minds. 

Although I watched this event through the live stream, the energy and the sheer amount of passion these authors have towards their writing could be felt through the screen, creating an amazing and engaging atmosphere.  

The prize was presented with great professionalism to this year’s winner, Preti Taneja, for her outstanding piece of narrative non-fiction, Aftermath, which exploring numerous emotions and themes such as terror, trauma and grief. Gordan Burn once stated that the “complexities of human nature are often witnessed in a structurally violent world”, which Taneja’s Aftermath effectively displays.  

What also stood out for me at this event was the musical performance by Martha Hill, who was showcased during the interlude. They certainly delivered a remarkable level of entertainment, whilst the anticipation grew as we waited for the shortlisted winner to be announced.  

Overall, this was an amazing and well-organised event that I would absolutely recommend to anyone for future years! 

This review has been written as part of Turn Up for the Books, a partnership project between New Writing North and English PEN, designed to give young people aged 16-25 an insight into careers within literature. Travel to Durham was made possible by sponsorship from the Bishop Line Community Rail partnership.