Goldsmiths Prize: Single sentence novel wins £10,000 award



Mike McCormackImage copyright
New Statesman

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McCormack is the third Irish writer to win the prize

A novel written in a single unbroken sentence has won the Goldsmiths Prize 2016.

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack was named the winner of the £10,000 award, which recognises fiction “that breaks the mould”.

Published by Tramp Press, the novel follows the recollections of an engineer named Marcus Conway briefly returned from the dead.

McCormack is the third Irish writer to win since the prize began in 2013.

Chairman of judges Professor Blake Morrison said: “Set over a few hours in a single day, and told in the first-person voice of a middle-aged engineer, Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones transcends these seeming limits magnificently.

“Politics, family, art, marriage, health, civic duty and the environment are just a few of the themes it touches on, in a prose that’s lyrical yet firmly rooted.

“Its subject may be an ordinary working life but it is itself an extraordinary work.”

‘Up for it’

McCormack, 51, called on more publishers to take risks with experimental authors.

“Readers are smart. They’re up for it,” he said.

“That was what the people at Tramp Press taught me. There are readers out there and they have been proved right.”

Other literary works that break the mould

  • James Joyce’s Ulysses concludes with a chapter made up of eight unpunctuated sentences, the longest of which runs to more than 4,400 words.
  • Irvine Welsh’s 1998 novel Filth contains interjections from a tapeworm that appear superimposed on the book’s text.
  • Mark Dunn’s 2001 novel Ella Minnow Pea is made up of correspondence written by the inhabitants of an island who are forbidden to use certain letters.
  • Ali Smith’s 2014 novel How To Be Both consists of two parts that can be read in either order.
  • David Mitchell’s 2014 short story The Right Sort is made up of 280 tweets.

The six shortlisted works were:

  • Transit by Rachel Cusk, published by Jonathan Cape
  • The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, published by Faber and Faber
  • Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, published by Tramp Press
  • Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, published by Cassava Republic
  • Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, published by Hamish Hamilton
  • Martin John by Anakana Schofield, published by And Other Stories

The prize was founded in 2013 by Goldsmiths, University of London, and is held in partnership with the New Statesman.

Last year’s winner was Beatlebone by Kevin Barry.

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