- Meghna Godya candidly reflects upon her attendance of the Goldsmiths Book Prize and the Goldsmiths obsession with originality.
The newest addition to Goldsmith’s unrelenting attempts to showcase individuality is the Goldsmith Book prize, used to reward and celebrate “the novel and its most novel.” A horrible pun, I am aware, yet it resonated quite well once hearing the readings at hand. Eimaer McBride’s depiction of devastation in Girl is a Half-formed Thing, has been announced the winner of the inaugural Goldsmith’s prize and is to receive £10,000 and a trophy. Despite being in its first year, the Goldsmith’s prize has already received an astounding amount of attention for the way it rewards writers who are normally considered a publishing risk.
McBride’s novel tells the story of a young woman and her brother and the long-standing darkness cast upon them due to a childhood brain tumour. Dr Parnell said: “Boldly original and utterly compelling, Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is just the kind of book the Goldsmiths Prize was created to celebrate, and we are delighted to have found such a remarkable novel in the award’s inaugural year.”
The top six novels up for the award were extremely unique. The evening began with an introduction from Professor Blake Morrison, Director of the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, followed by the readings from the nominees. Jim Crace socio-political rural tragedy Harvest, Lars Iyer’s exploration of philosophical turmoil in Exodus, David Peace with his extended insight into love, madness and football in Red or Dead, Ali Smith’s innovative and hilarious tale of a haunting in Artful and Philip Terry with his modernistic medieval tales in Tapestry.
Despite the illuminating readings from the five authors present, It was slightly disappointing that one of the authors; David Peace, could not attend the reading. An extract of his novel was heard in the form of a sound clip live from Tokyo, despite the scratching and gaps in the audio, the impact of the text was not detracted from.
After the readings had concluded the audience had a chance to ask the authors questions regarding their books or whatever they like really. Most of the questions at hand revolved around the general themes of “Do you consider yourself an innovative writer?” and “Do you consider yourself a writer in general?” The answers to these questions were surprising, as this group of innovators unanimously agreed that they do not consider themselves to be literary rebels or writers at all. Suggesting that “The moment you start to consider yourself a writer, you will not have anything to write about.” Perhaps one can take this as a valid piece of advice for aspiring writers; considering these authors are shortlisted for what I picture will soon be a highly coveted and prestigious award. An award that is focused on originality – surely something all novelists/writers/ experimenters, are aiming for?