It’s time for the Goldsmiths Prize, for “fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form.” What an intriguing shortlist we have this year:
- Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths (Henningham Family Press)
- A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus)
- The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison (Goillancz)
- Meanwhile in Dopamine City by DBC Pierre (Faber)
- The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree Press)
- Bina by Anakana Schofield (Fleet)
The only one of these I’ve read so far is The Mermaid of Black Conch (review linked above). I hadn’t really thought of it in connection with the Goldsmiths, but now I think about its variety of voices, I can see that it deserves its place.
There are two books that I’m especially pleased to see on the shortlist. I first read Anakana Schofield when her previous novel, Martin John, was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize in 2016. I loved that book and can’t wait to see what Bina is like. M. John Harrison is an author I always find challenging and compelling: it took three attempts before Viriconium clicked, but when it finally did… The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again is a book I’ve wanted to read, and I’m happy it has been recognised by the Goldsmiths.
Elsewhere on the list, I enjoyed Xiaolu Guo’s UFO in Her Eyes a few years ago, so I’m looking forward to reading her again. I don’t really know anything about Paul Griffiths or Mr. Beethoven, but I have heard of Henningham Family Press through keeping an eye on the small press scene. It’s a two-person operation which I hear publishes some beautiful books – consider me intrigued.
Which leaves the book I’m not sure about, Meanwhile in Dopamine City. I’ve never really felt like reading DBC Pierre, whose work seems to be an acquired taste. Well, you never know.
The winner of this year’s Goldsmiths Prize will be announced on 11 November. I may not get through the whole shortlist by then, but I am planning to read and review them all. It should be fun.