Lucy Ellmann, Mark Haddon and Deborah Levy are among the authors on a shortlist dominated by indie presses for this year’s Goldsmiths Prize.
Books by Amy Arnold, Vesna Main and Isabel Waidner are also in the running for the £10,000 award, now in its seventh year, which recognises experimental fiction.
Ellmann, already nominated for the Booker, gets the nod for her “massive achievement” Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar). “It is as playful and urgent, humanist and unflinching, as the other big novels that precede it in the literary canon,” judge and Icelandic writer Sjón said.
Amy Arnold was chosen for her “hazy, unsettling and uncompromising” Slip of a Fish (And Other Stories), which deconstructs an English summer through the haunted consciousness of its protagonist.
Haddon made the list for The Porpoise (Chatto & Windus), which was praised as “a gorgeous, enlivening experience” by judge Guy Gunaratne. “There is storytelling of such primacy in The Porpoise, that when I turned the last page, I was left completely elated,” he said.
Levy was picked for The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton), which ventures from East Berlin just before the fall of the Wall to post-Brexit Britain. Judges said it was “executed in a melancholy and highly seductive style, so that the novel becomes a mosaic celebrating the inevitable sadness of life.”
Meanwhile, Good Day? by Main (Salt), written in dialogue alone, was “elegant, compelling, and slips down a treat”, chair of judges Erica Wagner said.
Finally, Waidner rounded off the shortlist with We Are Made of Diamond Stuff (Dostoyevsky Wannabe). Gunaratne said: “There is not a single ordinary sentence in We Are Made of Diamond Stuff. A novel that reads like an act of sabotage, of resistance, written as a song-scream against our nullifying need to belong.”
The shortlist was revealed at Goldsmiths, University of London this evening (Wednesday 2nd October) following the New Statesman/Goldsmiths Prize lecture on "Why the Novel Matters" given by Eimear McBride. McBride was the winner of the inaugural prize in 2013 for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (Galley Beggar).
Wagner said: “The Goldsmiths Prize is now in its seventh year—lucky number seven, with such a terrific shortlist. From the vast eidetic capaciousness of Lucy Ellman's Ducks, Newburyport, to the slender and hectic compression of Isabel Waidner’s We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff, this year’s selection of six books not only offers a reminder that the novel remains a flexible and innovative form, but reflects our 21st-century political and cultural concerns.”
The winner of the prize will be announced at a ceremony in Foyles, Charing Cross Road, on 13th November. Last year’s award was won by Robin Robertson for The Long Take (Picador).