Goldsmiths Launches 10,000 GBP Prize for Innovative Fiction

In What's the Buzz by Adam Critchley

By Adam Critchley

Evoking the literal meaning of the word “novel” to encourage innovation in fiction, Goldsmiths, the cultural faculty of the University of London, has launched a prize that seeks to “break the mold” of the novel form, and which carries a 10,000 GBP purse.

The Goldsmiths Prize, launched in association with New Statesman magazine, will be awarded annually to a book “deemed genuinely novel, and which embodies the spirit of the invention that characterizes the genre at its best.”

Launched in the tri-centenary of the year of the births of Laurence Sterne and Denis Diderot, the prize hopes writers will draw on their innovation for inspiration.

“There are many prizes with a brief to reward the ‘best’ fiction, but while that implies openness to excellent novels of all kinds, the books that win prizes tend, for all their merits, to be unsurprising and conventional. The Goldsmiths Prize will go to a novel that shares something of the exuberant inventiveness and restlessness with conventions manifest in Tristram Shandy and Jacques the Fatalist,” the organizers state.

“The modern equivalents of Laurence Sterne and Denis Diderot are often labeled ‘experimental,’ with the implication that their fiction is an eccentric deviation from the novel’s natural concerns, structures and idioms. A long view of the novel’s history suggests that it is the most flexible and varied of genres, and the prize will encourage and reward writers who make best use of its many resources and possibilities.”

“Serious discussion of the art of fiction is now too often confined to the pages of learned journals, and we hope the prize will stimulate a much wider debate about fiction,” it added.

Novels eligible for consideration must have been published by a UK-based publisher, by authors that are citizens of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, between November 2012 and 31 October 2013. Publishers are invited to submit books or manuscripts by 22 March 2013. The winner will be announced in November 2014.

The judges are Nicola Barker, named among the Best Young British Novelists by Granta in 2005; Jonathan Derbyshire, cultural editor of the New Statesman; novelist and playwright Gabriel Josipovici, and Tim Parnell, head of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths.

About the Author

Adam Critchley

Adam Critchley is a Mexico-based freelance writer and translator. His articles have been published in Latin American Literature Today, Brando, Forbes, GQ, Gatopardo, Publishers Weekly, Travesías and Vinísfera, among other publications, and his short stories have appeared in The Brooklyn Review, El Puro Cuento and Storyteller-UK. His translations include a series of children's books based on indigenous Mexican folk tales. He can be contacted at