Novelist Ali Smith has won the Goldsmiths Prize, awarded for "boldly original" fiction.
Smith won the £10,000 award, now in its second year, for How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton), the two-part novel which lost out to Richard Flanagan on the shortlist for this year's Man Booker.
The prize was awarded last night (Wednesday 12th November) at Foyles in Charing Cross Road. The Goldsmiths victory made it two prize wins in two days for Smith, who also took the Literary Book of the Year gong at the Saltire Literary Awards on Tuesday (11th).
Author Francis Spufford, who lectures in creative writing at Goldsmiths and was chair of the judging panel, said: "We are proud to give this year's Goldsmiths Prize to a book which confirms that formal innovation is completely compatible with pleasure – that it can be, in fact, a renewal of the writer's compact with the reader to delight and astonish." He added that Smith's book "juggles exquisitely with its dual form".
New Statesman culture editor Tom Gatti, also a judge of the award, called the winning novel "a playful and profound book that pushes the novel into thrilling new shapes."
Receiving the award, Smith said modestly: "I can't believe this is happening. I think I might be making it up," before thanking publisher Simon Prosser and publicist Anna Ridley.
Smith beat fellow shortlistees Rachel Cusk (Outline, Faber), Will Eaves (The Absent Therapist, CB Editions), Howard Jacobson (J, Jonathan Cape), Paul Kingsnorth (The Wake, Unbound) and Zia Haider Rahman (In the Light of What We Know, Picador) to win the award. Also judging were authors Kirsty Gunn and Geoff Dyer.
The award was created by Goldsmiths, University of London, in association with the New Statesman, to recognise published fiction "that opens up new possibilities for the novel form." The inaugural winner was Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (Galley Beggar), and it was the first prize for the author ahead of her Baileys, Desmond Elliott and Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year victories.
Spufford revealed last night that the prize trophy - depicting a waving line against a plain background - is intended to represent the flourish made in the air by the stick of Corporal Trim in Laurence Sterne's groundbreaking 1759 novel Tristram Shandy.