Paul Kingsnorth's crowd-funded novel The Wake has won the Gordon Burn Prize.
The Wake, originally published by Unbound after being backed by readers pledging money online, was also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Set in the years immediately after 1066, it tells the story of a group of Saxon men fighting back against the Norman invaders, told in "shadow tongue", combining old and modern English.
The Gordon Burn Prize, now in its second year, is run by the Gordon Burn Trust alongside New Writing North and Faber & Faber. It commemorates the late writer Gordon Burn, and seeks "to recognise writers whose work follows in his fearless footsteps".
It was judged by actor Julian Barratt, poet John Burnside, artist Sarah Lucas, and last year's winner Benjamin Myers, who won for his book Pig Iron (Bluemoose Books).
Myers said of The Wake: "The ‘shadow tongue’ vocabulary that is the novel’s architecture automatically makes The Wake a unique entity, yet it is so much more than a dazzling display of linguistic flair. Paul Kingsnorth creates his own world - that of an old England that is both familiar yet utterly alien - and pulls you in to bear witness to our own bloody history first hand."
He added: "I truly believe future generations will regard The Wake as a classic."
The other books on the shortlist were The Valley by Richard Benson (Bloomsbury); The Kills by Richard House (Picador); The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing (Canongate); American Interior by Gruff Rhys (Hamish Hamilton); and The Free by Willy Vlautin (Faber).
Kingsnorth was announced as the winner at an event at the Durham Book Festival this evening (10th October). He wins £5,000 and the opportunity to spend three months writing at Burn's cottage in Berwickshire.