The Goldsmiths’ Writing Centre and the New Statesman awarded M. John Harrison with the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for his fiction novel, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, last Wednesday.
Harrison expressed his gratitude for winning the prize and his pride for being “in the company of such good writers”.
He said: “Prizes [that are devoted to experimental fiction] keep fiction honest. They keep it pushing ahead. They reward the novel for its idiosyncrasies, its ambitions, its attempts to see into its own future.”
Harrison received the prize alongside five fellow shortlist nominees of the literary competition, including Paul Griffiths, author of Mr. Beethoven; Xiaolu Guo, author of, A Lover’s Discourse; DBC Pierre, author of Meanwhile in Dopamine City; Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch; and Anakana Schofield, author of Bina.
Dr. Erica Wagner, Goldsmiths, University of London English and Creative Writing programme lecturer, encouraged attendees to prepare their drinks for a toast as she hosted the ceremony on Zoom.
Meanwhile, Goldsmiths lecturer and competition chair Frances Wilson announced the Goldsmiths Prize winner for this year, which she said “rose to the top again and again”.
Wilson said: “[M. John Harrison’s The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again] is a slippery, shimmeringly political prophecy, which operates like a dream we may have had before, but keep forgetting.”
Goldsmiths’ Warden, Professor Frances Corner, also announced that Elena Bardon-Davis won the Goldsmiths Young Writers’ Prize for her short work of fiction, “Loverstruck.” Bardon-Davis’ award included £1,000 and an invitation to attend the ceremony.
Professor Corner said: “Elena’s story, ‘Lovestruck,’ is the unanimous choice of the judges out of all the 168 entries to the competition.”
The shortlist nominees and attendees congratulated Harrison during the very 2020-style virtual ceremony. Anakana Schofield closed out the night by expressing her gratitude for the fun she had on the shortlist — and admitting that she had been cleaning dishes the entire time.
Schofield said: “Sorry, it’s 11 o’clock in the morning here, and I’ve got a 21-year-old who makes an awful lot of dishes.”
This year’s Goldsmiths Prize competition and ceremony will surely be remembered in its own novel way.