The Man Booker-longlisted The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound) is among the six books shortlisted for the second annual Gordon Burn Prize.
The award seeks to recognise writers whose works follows in the “fearless footsteps” of Burn, described by award organisers as “an incisive, undaunted writer” and a “literary polymath, writing forensically on subjects ranging from celebrity to serial killers, politics to contemporary art, sport to the media”.
The Wake, set in the years after the Battle of Hastings, written in a blend of modern and Old English and published by crowd-funded publisher Unbound, will go up against The Valley by Richard Benson (Bloomsbury), about four generations of Benson’s family in Dearne Valley; The Kills by Richard House (Picador), about a series of characters involved in the construction of a fictional military base in Iraq; The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing (Canongate), examining the relationship between drink and creativity through well-known writers including F Scott Fitzgerald; American Interior by Gruff Rhys (Hamish Hamilton), a historical travelogue; and The Free by Willy Vlautin (Faber & Faber), a novel about a young, wounded Iraq veteran.
The judges for this year’s prize are comedian, actor and musician Julian Barratt; poet John Burnside; artist Sarah Lucas; and novelist Benjamin Myers, who won the inaugural Gordon Burn Prize in 2013.
The shortlist of six was announced this evening (12th August) at the launch of the Durham Book Festival programme. The award is run in partnership by New Writing North, Faber & Faber, and the Gordon Burn Trust.
The winner, who will get £5,000 and be offered the chance to take a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire, will be announced on 10th October at a special event at Durham Book Festival, where the shortlisted authors will read from their work.