Watch: Lars Iyer, Jim Crace, Philip Terry and Eimear McBride on the Dark Ages, sexy prizes and experimentation

Writers shortlisted for the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize read from their work and answer questions.

The £10,000 Goldsmith Prize seeks to reward innovation in fiction. It is in an exceptional position to promote British authors, particularly following the Booker announced its intention to allow entries from across the globe, so long as they are published in Britain. Last Wednesday, all six shortlisted writers were invited to Goldsmiths, University of London, to read from and discuss their novels. Lars Iyer, Jim Crace, Ali Smith, Eimear McBride and Philip Terry appeared in the flesh - while David Peace was beamed in from Tokyo via Skype. The winner of the inagural prize will be announced at a reception on Wednesday evening (13 November).

Lars Iyer’s Exodus is a book of philosophy written as fiction. It is the third novel in a trilogy which follows two academics discussing, in the dialectical tradition, everything from Kierkegaard to Beckett (via Herzog). Juliet Jacques, in an interview with Iyer, attributes his success to Iyer’s “skill in distilling ... despair.”

Harvest by Jim Crace follows widower Walter Thirsk during one calamitous week of harvest. Enclosure has uprooted a family to the edges of his village and is set to uproot him too. Leo Robson describes it as the “most seductive and enthralling of Crace's novels”

Philip Terry’s novel tapestry is about the language of propaganda. The novel tells the story the nuns who made the Bayeux Tapestry and follows their conversations and tales they tell each other. Nicholas Lezard on tapestery: “It's fun, it's intelligent, it makes you contemplate the age with new interest, and yet it does not shirk from depicting the grim realities of life at the time.

Eimear McBride’s debut A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing delves into the mind of an adolescent Irish girl as she attempts to make sense of the world. The novel has been described as “the work of a writer with the courage to reinvent the sentence as she pleases, and the virtuosity required to pull it off.”

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The Met Gala 2016: the dull, the terrifying and the brilliantly odd

The Met Ball is, to paraphrase Mean Girls, the one night a year when celebs can dress like total freaks and no one can say anything about it.

For those unfamiliar with the Met Gala, it’s basically a cross between a glossy red carpet affair and a fancy dress party: the themed prom of your dreams. Hosted by Vogue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is, to paraphrase Mean Girls, the one night a year when celebs can dress like total freaks and no one can say anything about it. Each year there is a theme to match the The Costume Institute’s spring exhibition – the only rules are stick with it, be bizarre, outlandish and remember that there’s no such thing as over the top.

This year’s theme was Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology. A man-meets-machine theme surely offers a world of endless possibilities: suits that move by themselves! Colour-changing gowns! Holographic ties! Levitating shoes! Floppy disk trains!

Or everybody could just come in silver, I guess.

The cardinal offence of the Met Ball is to be boring, and this year, almost nobody was free from sin. As Miranda Priestly would say: “Metallics for a technology theme? Groundbreaking.” Cindy Crawford, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian (both in Balmain, like always), Rita Ora and Taylor Momsen (wait, I mean Swift) all need to take along hard look at themselves.

The only thing worse than “I’ll just shove something shiny on” is “Mmmmm guess I’ll ignore the theme altogether and make sure I look nice”. Flagrant disobedience never looked so miserably bland. In this category: Amber Heard, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Uma Thurman, everyone in Topshop, and literally ALL THE MEN. I mean, Tom Hiddleston could be any human male at a posh event from 1858-now.

In contrast, plus points for arbitrary weirdness go to Sarah Jessica Parker for coming as some sort of virginial pirate, Lorde for her directional arm cast, Zayn for his directional arm plates, Katy Perry for her noble ensemble reminding us all of the importance of tech security (keep it under lock and key, folks!), Lady Gaga for coming as a sexy microchip, and will.i.am for… whatever that is.

The best theme interpretations in my mind go to Allison Williams for her actually beautiful 3D-printed gown, Emma Watson for her outfit made entirely out of recycled bottles, Claire Danes for coming as a Disney light-up princess doll, FKA Twigs for dressing as a dystopian leader from the future, and Orlando Bloom for coming in a boring normal suit and just pinning an actual tamagotchi on his lapel. Baller move.

The  best outfits of all were even weirder. Beyoncé couldn’t be outdone in this dress, seemingly made out of the skin of her husband’s mistress: as she warned us she would do on Lemonade, with the lyric “If it’s what you truly want, I can wear her skin over mine.” Of course this peach PVC number is also studded with pearls reportedly worth around $8,000 each.

Solange shone like the sun in this bright yellow structural creature (paired with some slick yellow leggings that nod to her sister’s outfit) proving yet again that she is the only woman on earth who can pull off looking like a cubist painting.

Kanye was possibly the only person to have ever worn ripped jeans to a fashion event hosted by Anna Wintour and the Met, studding a jean jacket to oblivion, and wearing pale blue contacts to boot - he and FKA Twigs could lead the dystopian future together. When asked about his icy eyes, Kanye simply replied, “Vibes.”

But my personal favourite of the night has to be Lupita Nyong’o, who, radiant as ever, wins points for being on theme in her afrofuturistic look and the technology behind her outfit (her dress is sustainably made by Calvin Klein for The Green Carpet Challenge). She looks absolutely stunning, and is as far from boring as it’s possible to be with two-foot-tall hair. Perfection.

All photos via Getty.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.