The late Michelle McNamara has made the shortlist for the 2018 Gordon Burn Prize, which seeks to champion "fearless non-fiction and bold, genre-defying fiction".
The prize was founded in 2012 to celebrate the legacy of the late Gordon Burn and to champion work that "follows in his footsteps". This year's six-strong shortlist represents "some of the most exciting fiction and non-fiction published in the UK and US today" and showcases a "rich variety of work by pioneering writers", said the prize's organisers. The winning writer will receive £5,000.
McNamara was shortlisted for her true crime tale about the Golden State Killer, I'll Be Gone in the Dark (Faber). She died unexpectedly in her sleep in 2016 just ahead of completing the book, so it was finished by her lead researcher and close colleague, and was framed by an introduction by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and a "moving" afterword by her husband Patton Oswalt.
Also shortlisted are a "powerful and moving" novel by Jesse Ball entitled Census (Granta Books), which follows a father and son who are journeying across a tapestry of towns; H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker (William Heinemann), described as a "post-post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland; In Our Mad and Furious City, a "brave and orginial" novel by Guy Gunaratne (Tinder Press, Headline); Crudo by Olivia Laing (Picador), a "funny and emphatically raw account of love in the apocalypse", and The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton), a searching examination of all the dimensions of love, marraige, mourning and kinship.
The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges which consisted of journalist and critic Alex Clark, writer Kei Miller, artist Gillian Wearing and musician Andrew Weatherall.
Weatherall said: “In the way that they fuse fact and fiction, are more interested in narrative exploration than plot and investigate oblique connections, the books on the shortlist contain literary DNA traceable to Mr Burn. However, they use this to create identities and worlds very much their own.”
Clark added: “I was delighted to join this year’s judging panel – not least because Gordon Burn’s work has been enormously important to me; indeed, I can hardly watch the current political and social turbulence without wondering what extraordinary and profound pieces of art he would have made out of it. As we talked through the books we had read, we often touched on how they reflected Burn’s legacy – and I think the result, a shortlist of real innovation, commitment and ingenuity – provides the answer.”
The Gordon Burn Prize is run in partnership by New Writing North, Durham Book Festival, Faber & Faber and the Gordon Burn Trust. The winner will be announced on Thursday 11th October 2018 at the Durham Book Festival, a Durham County Council festival.