Fledgling small presses Charco Press and Dostoevsky Wannabe have been shortlisted for the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize alongside Influx Press, Les Fugitives, Little Island Press and Galley Beggar.
Returning for the second year, The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses rewards independent publishers from the UK and Ireland that "take the risk to publish brave and bold literary fiction".
Edinburgh-based Charco Press was launched in 2017 to find outstanding contemporary Latin American literature and bring it to new readers in the English-speaking world. It is shortlisted for Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, which was named best novel of 2012 by the Argentinian daily La Nación. From Dostoevsky Wannabe, a Manchester-based publisher, is Gaudy Bauble by Isabel Waidner and from Les Fugitives is Blue Self-Portrait by Noemi Lefevbre.
Also shortlisted are Attrib. and other stories by Eley Williams (Influx), Darker with the Lights On by David Hayden (Little Island Press) and We That Are Young by Preti Taneja (Galley Beggar Press).
Founded by novelist Neil Griffiths in 2016, the prize rewards a work of literary fiction – a novel, a translation, or a collection of short stories – by a single author of any nationality. It is open to publishers that have no more than five full-time employees.
Griffiths said that the shortlist was "bold, surprising" and "almost flamboyant". He added: "I love that two of the presses are less than two years old, and that without design we have novels, translated fiction and short stories represented. Every shortlisted work has flown over our impossibly high bar of ‘hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose’ with its own unique style."
According to Griffiths, at a time when there is widespread concern about literary fiction – an Arts Council England report recently found print sales of the genre significantly below where they were in the mid- noughties – small presses are showing "unrivalled confidence". He cited latest figures from sales and marketing agency Inpress, which works with 60 of the smallest players in the industry and revealed sales were up 79% in the last year.
Each press on the shortlist receives £1,500 – to be divided two thirds to the press, one third to the writer. The winner receives an extra £3,500. The jury of 12 consisted of booksellers – from bookshops in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London, and Manchester – to book reviewers and readers, alongside a contributor to the TLS.
The winner will be announced on 20th March at the University of Westminster, London.
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