This year, I thought I would pay closer attention to the Goldsmiths Prize, for fiction that “breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel form”, as my reading is leaning more and more in that direction. The 2015 shortlist was announced this morning:
Beatlebone by Kevin Barry (Canongate)
Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard (Harvill Secker)
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (Jonathan Cape)
The Field of the Cloth of Gold by Magnus Mills (Bloomsbury)
Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter (Faber & Faber)
Lurid & Cute by Adam Thirlwell (Jonathan Cape)
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First impressions? It’s disappointing that the list is all white and all male (and for a prize whose previous winners have both been women), and that all the books are from relatively large publishers (in the past, the Goldsmiths has shone a spotlight on the likes of CB Editions and Galley Beggar Press).
Still, this is the shortlist we have, so what about the books? The only I’ve read so far is Satin Island, which I liked (read my thoughts here and here). An extract from Lurid & Cute was published in the 2013 Best of Young British Novelists issue of Granta; I was unsure at the time how its narrative voice would fare at novel length, so count me as on the fence about that one.
The others all intrigue me. I know Kevin Barry from reading his short fiction, but I’ve yet to read him at novel length. Richard Beard has been on my list of authors-to-read for a while. I’ve never yet been tempted to read Magnus Mills, but have heard praise for him from such different quarters over the years that maybe now is the time. Max Porter I know as an editor at Granta Books, and have heard a lot of good things about his first novel.
The winner will be announced on 11 November, and the chances of my actually being able to read the full shortlist before then are pretty slim. So I’m just going to read what I can, but I hope to find some good stuff along the way.