Novels inspired by the lives of Alan Turing and James Joyce's daughter are among 13 works of fiction in the running for the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses 2019.
For presses with fewer than five full-time employees, the free-to-enter competition longlisted 13 books "representing the best of small press fiction writing", hailing from publishers in eight towns and cities across UK and Ireland (Manchester, London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Norwich, Dublin, Leeds, Birmingham).
Two novels competing for the prize are Will Eaves' Turing-inspired novel Murmur (CB Editions), the first chapter for which also made the shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2017, and Lucia by Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press), about Joyce's daughter, Lucia Joyce, who spent most of her adult life in psychiatric care.
Other books that made the cut on the Republic of Consciousness' "inclusive and intriguing" longlist are: The Cemetery in Barnes by Gabriel Josipovici (Carcanet); Resistance by Julián Fuks, tr. Daniel Hahn (Charco Press); Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn (Fairlight Books); Dedalus by Chris McCabe (Henningham Family Press); Doppelgänger by Daša Drndić, tr. Celia Hawkesworth & S. D. Curtis (Istros); Now, Now, Louison by Jean Frémon, tr. Cole Swensen (Les Fugitives); Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford (New Island Books); Kitch by Anthony Joseph (Peepal Tree Press); Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena, tr. Margita Gailitis (Peirene Press); Hang Him When He's Not There by Nicholas John Turner (Splice); and Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine (Stinging Fly).
Among the authors in the running are high-profile names Gabriel Josipovici and Daša Drndić, the latter of whom died in June last year. Josipovici is longlisted for The Cemetery in Barnes (Carcanet), a short, intense novel about a translator who moves from London to Paris after the death of his first wife, while Croatian novelist Drndić is recognised for Doppelgänger, a book consisting of two stories exploring loneliness - "Arthur and Isabella" and "Pupi" - translated into English by Celia Hawkesworth & S. D. Curtis (Istros).
Also in the mix are four debut writers, two of whom are with presses that only set up in the last year. They are Sophie van Llewyn's Bottled Goods (Fairlight Books), a work set in 1970s communist Romania incorporating elements of magical realism, and Hang Him When He's Not There by Australian writer Nicholas John Turner (Splice). The other two are Sue Rainsford's "unnerving" and "sinister" debut Follow Me to Ground (New Island Books), questionning preconceptions of predator and prey, and Wendy Erskine's debut collection of short fiction, Sweet Home (Stinging Fly).
Extracts from the entire longlist will be available to read on Pigeonhole's online platform from next week. The judges of this year's prize were literary critics David Collard and Catherine Taylor, and the novelist Niven Govinden, alongside a student panel from the UEA Creative Writing programme.
According to organisers, the prize money is likely to be slightly more than last year's £12,500, and will be split between author and publisher. The shortlist will be announced on Saturday March 2nd as part of the Love Takes Risks small press symposium at the University of East Anglia and the winner will be announced on March 28th.
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