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20 January 2021

Kamila Shamsie and Nell Stevens to judge 2021 Goldsmiths Prize

Fred D’Aguiar and Johanna Thomas-Corr complete the panel for the £10,000 prize for “literature at its most novel”.

By Ellen Peirson-Hagger

The novelist Kamila Shamsie and the memoirist and fiction writer Nell Stevens have been announced as judges for this year’s Goldsmiths Prize, which celebrates “literature at its most novel”.

Stevens, who won the 2019 Somerset Maugham Award for Mrs Gaskell & Me and lectures at Goldsmiths, University of London, will chair the panel, comprising Shamsie as well as the poet, playwright and novelist Fred D’Aguiar, and the book critic and New Statesman contributing writer Johanna Thomas-Corr.

Shamsie, who was born in Karachi and lives in London, won the 2018 Women’s Prize for her seventh novel Home Fire, a modern-day retelling of the story of Sophocles’s play Antigone. She is co-vice-president of the council of the Royal Society of Literature. D’Aguiar, a British-Guyanese writer, is a professor of english at the University of California, Los Angeles. His works include five novels and six poetry collections, including the TS Eliot Prize-nominated Bill of Rights (1998) and Continental Shelf (2009). His most recent novel, Children of Paradise, reimagines the Jonestown massacre from the perspective of a mother and her child. Thomas-Corr is a regular book critic for the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, and lives in Bristol.

[See also: Frances Wilson on why M John Harrison won the 2020 Goldsmiths Prize]

Stevens said: “I’m excited to be judging the Goldsmiths Prize in its ninth year. Perhaps now more than ever we need novels that challenge our perception of what is possible, in fiction and in life – I can’t wait to discover them.”

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The £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize, launched in association with the New Statesman in 2013, was created to recognise fiction that “breaks the mould, opens up new possibilities for the novel form, and embodies the spirit of invention”. This year’s prize opens for submissions on 22 January, and the winner is to be revealed on 10 November 2021.

This year’s judges were announced following an online talk with M John Harrison, who won the 2020 prize for his uncanny tale of Brexit Britain, The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again (Gollancz). Previous winners of the prize include Lucy Ellmann for Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar), Ali Smith for How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton) and Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (Galley Beggar).

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