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21 January 2016

Blake Morrison and Bernardine Evaristo to judge the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize

The 2016 Goldsmiths Prize for “fiction at its most novel” announces its judging panel.

By Tom Gatti

The writer and critic Blake Morrison has been announced as the chair of the judges for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize for fiction. Morrison, Professor of Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths and author of the prize-winning memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father?, will be joined by Bernardine Evaristo, Erica Wagner and Joanna Walsh. Submission for entries (novels written by authors from the UK and Republic of Ireland) will open on Friday 22 January and close on Friday 25 March. 

The £10,000 prize, co-founded with the New Statesman, is for fiction that “breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form”: The 2015 prize was won by Kevin Barry for his second novel Beatlebone – a wild, discursive trip around the west coast of Ireland and into the mind of John Lennon. Eimear McBride was the first winner for her debut, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing – a disturbing, original, language-rich novel that was published nine years after it was written, after multiple rejections, by the Norwich-based independent imprint Galley Beggar Press. McBride’s book went on to win the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and was republished by Faber & Faber; her second novel, The Lesser Bohemians, will be published this autumn. The 2014 prize was won by Ali Smith for How to Be Both.

Blake Morrison has published poetry, fiction, nonfiction and criticism, and is a former literary editor of the Observer and the Independent on Sunday, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Bernardine Evaristo is the author of several books of inventive poetry and prose, including Soul Tourists and The Emperor’s Babe, and is professor of creative writing at Brunel University, where she initiated the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Erica Wagner is a contributing writer to the New Statesman and former literary editor of The Times; her books include Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of the Birthday Letters and a novel, Seizure. Joanna Walsh is the fiction editor of 3:AM Magazine and the founder of the #readwomen campaign, as well as the author of a nonfiction work, Hotel, and a collection of stories, Vertigo.

Erica Wagner said yesterday that she was “thrilled” to be judging the Goldsmiths Prize. “It’s a prize that celebrates a sense of adventure in both writers and readers, and since its founding in 2013 has come to be widely recognized as a mark of creative excellence and innovation. It offers proof that the novel has not been eclipsed by television, or tweeting, or anything at all – the novel form can be brand-new all the time, and I can’t wait to see what 2016 offers me and my fellow judges.”

At an event at Goldsmiths last night, Kevin Barry said that the Goldsmiths Prize “has very quickly carved out a unique, and very important, place for itself, because it rewards innovation and the novel must be novel if it’s to succeed. Barry was absolutely ecstatic to win for Beatlebone. A prize is as good as the people who have won it and in its short history its rewarded really interesting, really fine novels. So long may it continue.

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The 2016 shortlist will be announced on September 29, and the winner on November 9. 

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