Goldsmiths Prize shortlist revealed with northern authors dominating
The Goldsmiths Prize for fiction has unveiled its much-anticipated six-book shortlist, and this year’s selection is nothing short of extraordinary. The prestigious £10,000 award, held in partnership with the New Statesman, is renowned for celebrating novels that “break the mould and extend the possibilities of the novel form.” However, according to a New Statesman report, what makes this year’s shortlist truly unique is the dominance of authors from and writing about the North of England.
Leading the charge is Benjamin Myers with his ninth novel, Cuddy, set in the enchanting landscapes of the north-east. A literary masterpiece that seamlessly blends prose, poetry, and drama, Cuddy reimagines the tale of St. Cuthbert, the revered patron saint of the North of England. This epic narrative spans from the 7th-century Lindisfarne to modern-day Durham, earning praise from novelist Helen Oyeyemi, one of the Goldsmiths Prize judges, who lauds it as “part poetry, part electricity.”
Amy Arnold, a previous shortlist nominee, returns with Lori & Joe, a gripping novel set in the Lake District. The story follows Lori as she embarks on a reflective journey through the fells after discovering her husband’s lifeless body, delving into the complexities of their marriage filled with regret.
Never Was by H Gareth Gavin, based in Manchester, is a captivating queer bildungsroman that oscillates between a fantastical party land and an unnamed industrial northern town. With its playful and dialogue-rich prose, the novel delves into themes of working-class masculinity, local history, and the allure of celebrity.
Richard Milward, a native of Middlesbrough now residing in south London, has presented Man-Eating Typewriter. This novel-within-a-novel pays homage to 1960s gay culture, exploring the lives of an anarchist planning the crime of the century and a maverick Soho publisher seeking to profit from the ensuing controversy.
Adding to the literary mix is Kate Briggs, with The Long Form, her debut novel. In this thought-provoking work, an unnamed mother cares for her baby while reading Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones. The novel is not only an exploration of the politics of caregiving but also a journey into the constraints and freedoms of the novel form itself.
Completing the shortlist is Adam Thirlwell’s The Future Future, a remarkable follow-up to his previous work, Lurid & Cute. The novel delves into the life of Celine, an 18th-century Parisian aristocrat embroiled in a misogynist gossip campaign. With themes of sex and revolution, the narrative takes readers from France to colonial America and even to the moon, challenging expectations of historical fiction.
The Goldsmiths Prize, an annual celebration of groundbreaking British and Irish novels, boasts a rich history of winners, including Eimear McBride, Lucy Ellmann, Ali Smith, and Kevin Barry. The winner of this year’s prize will be announced on November 8 and will make a special appearance at the Cambridge Literary Festival on November 19.
The 2023 Goldsmiths Prize shortlist in full:
Amy Arnold, Lori & Joe (Prototype)
Kate Briggs, The Long Form (Fitzcarraldo Editions)