Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams have won the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for their ‘extraordinary’ novel Diego Garcia (Fitzcarraldo). Soobramanien and Williams are the first duo to win in the award’s 10-year history.
Soobramanien and Williams were chosen as the winners from a shortlist of six.
In the book, two writer friends meet Diego, a poet, who tells them he is named for his mother’s island in the Chagos Archipelago, which she and her community were forced to leave by British soldiers in 1973. The writers become obsessed with this notorious episode and the continuing resistance of the Chagossian people, and want to write in solidarity, questioning how to share a story that is not theirs to tell, and how to account for a loss not theirs to grieve.
Established in 2013 by Goldsmiths University of London, the prize rewards fiction that ‘breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form’ and ’embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best’.
Isabel Waidner won last year for Sterling Karat Gold (Peninsula Press).
The book is about two writer friends, Damaris and Oliver, who move to Edinburgh from London, where Oliver’s brother died.
There, they meet the poet of the book’s title, who tells them he was named for his mother’s island in the Chagos archipelago, which she and her community were forced to leave by British soldiers in 1973.
The pair become obsessed by the episode and the Chagossian people, and want to write about the community’s experience in solidarity. The book interrogates the powers of literature alongside the crimes of the British government.
Soobramanien, who is British-Mauritian, and Williams, who is Scottish, both used to live in Edinburgh. Soobramanien now lives in Brussels and Williams in Cove, west Scotland. Diego Garcia was a long-term collaboration, which took 10 years to complete, co-written across countries.
Chair of judges, Tim Parnell, said the novel is “by turns, funny, moving, and angry” and “as compelling to read as it is intricately wrought”.