Mike McCormack

A Book With Only One Sentence Won the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize

November 14th, 2016 by Yun HAO | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Book With Only One Sentence Won the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize
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%e5%b1%8f%e5%b9%95%e5%bf%ab%e7%85%a7-2016-11-11-12-54-35Irish novelist Mike McCormack won the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize with£10,000 prize money for his book Solar Bones on 9th November 2016. The book’s narrative focuses a “man’s experience when his world threatens to fall apart” and how his memories came to live and flowed to him on Irish traditional festival, All Souls Day. The book’s writing style is its most distinct feature. There are no chapters, full stops, or speech marks, instead simply telling an ordinary story in one unbroken sentence “in the most extraordinary words.” The book has a quality of attention that caused Blake Morrison, the chair of the judges, to proclaim the novel “a masterpiece” and sta%e5%b1%8f%e5%b9%95%e5%bf%ab%e7%85%a7-2016-11-11-12-54-13nd out of the shortlist of six remarkable books for the prize this year.

The Goldsmiths Prize was launched in 2013, in association with the New Statesman, aiming “to reward fiction that breaks the mould or opens up new possibilities for the novel form.” The prize is significant because it greatly encouraged the development of creative literature. For readers, the award saves time and money for them to directly get access to the most outstanding works from abundant unknown experimental novels, as well as reduces risks of picking up a bad one. It also helps readers better understand and realize the value of the books. For experimental novels writer, their subjective initiatives are significantly activated by the prize, since they know the value of their works has increased chances to be spot and admired.

The prize also has important meanings and impacts on publishers. After all, the bridge between authors and readers can hardly be established without them. Large publishers, however, tend to be conservative and reluctant to publish creative literature, based on the considerations of unknown market, whereas small and independent publishers have long been the engines of creative literature. The confusing fact that none of the winners in the past four years come from England may indicate the point because small publishers in Scotland and Ireland are more willing to support the new form novels compared to those London-based large publishers. Solar Bones, for example, is published by Tramp, one of Ireland’s small independent publishing houses in Ireland. The author and winner, McCormack, called on more publishers to take the risk with experimental authors: “It’s about time the prize-giving community honored experimental works and time that mainstream publishers started honoring their readership by saying: ‘Here are experimental books’.” The words reflect experimental novel writers’ difficult situations when contacting large publishers. A more obvious example is the winner in 2013, Eimear McBride, the author of A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing. She also struggled to find a publisher. It had taken her nine years before the book appeared from the tiny, independent Galley Beggar Press.

The Goldsmiths Prize may reduce the anxieties and pressures of large publishers and new-form novel writers since the prize has proved that experimental writing can find a large and appreciative readership in its fourth year. Regarding customer comments on Amazon, you will find that most readers spoke highly of the new form novels. Experimental novels are of significant value because it extends literature to art, focusing the feelings and thoughts that words and formats convey in novel ways. With the prize’s recognition, an increasing number of readers will come to know and understand its value; large publishers will be more willing to publish experimental novels with a clearer market, and innovative culture industry will be further facilitated.


The Irish Times, New Statesman, The Guardian

 by Yun HAO