After the Goldsmiths rush

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, November 14, 2013 Under: Reality Street
Well, it's all over, and the result was both a disappointment - I can't pretend I didn't hope that Philip Terry's tapestry might win the Goldsmiths Prize - and a relief - not only that the suspense is finished with, but also ... well, the world of literary prizes and what they entail is not one that I am familiar or completely comfortable with, and now I don't have to deal with that.

For the record, the worthy winner was Eimear McBride for her disturbing and poetic novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

So yesterday evening was kind of weird. The reading by the six shortlistees in the lecture theatre at Goldsmiths College last week had been interesting, giving us a good sense of what the authors and their books were about, and creating a sense of excitement about the possibilities of innovative fiction.

Last night we were ushered into a different part of the college, two floors up, into a half-blue-lit space that suggested a disco. Standing room only, too dim to make out faces in the crowd, attendants offering trays of slim glasses of prosecco and minute canapes. A sequence of tweets projected onto a big screen. An hour in, then an introduction, a brief summary of the six books, and finally the announcement by Tim Parnell, head of the judges, whose brilliant idea this prize for innovative fiction has been.

I spent most of the time chatting with Philip and his partner and son and their friends, which was very pleasant. I suppose as publisher I should have been networking, or something, but I'm no good at that. 

We agreed that the shortlisting was a milestone for both Phil and Reality Street, and in my opinion it's richly deserved not only by him, but, by proxy, all the authors RS has published. I spoke briefly with Lars Iyer, whose Exodus (actually the third part of a very funny trilogy) was also on the shortlist - the experience he described of going into the average bookshop today and finding "there's nothing for me here" I have sadly shared. Whether this extremely welcome prize will much improve the sorry state of commercial publishing remains to be seen.

Lars' novel was published by a US independent, Melville House. I'm glad that the winning book was published by a small press, Galley Beggar, of Norwich. I heartily agree with Eimear McBride that “Small presses are going to be the saving of us all”. Forgetting about the relative merits of the six books, she and her press needed this, in a way that, with all due respect, Jim Crace (Picador), Ali Smith (Penguin) and David Peace (Faber) did not. So it was a good decision.

Now back to reality...

In : Reality Street 

Tags: "philip terry" "philip terry tapestry" "goldsmiths prize" 
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Ken Edwards This blog is written by Ken Edwards, co-founder and editor/publisher of Reality Street, and it's mainly about the press. Ken's personal blog can now be found at