The Lit Review |45| Goldsmiths Shortlist, Banshee & More

Barry on Goldsmiths Shortlist

Irish novelist and short story writer, Kevin Barry, has woken up to good news this morning. His yet-to-be-released novel, Beatlebone, has made the shortlist for the prestigious Goldsmiths Prize. The novel, set in 1978, follows John Lennon (yes, that John Lennon) as he escapes New York for Ireland, where he tries to find an island he bought nine years earlier. What ensues has been described as ‘a magical mystery tour’. Barry is no stranger to being in the running for major literary awards. His previous novel, City of Bohane, won the 2013 IMPAC Prize, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. He is also a previous winner of The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

The Goldsmith Prize was set up in 2013 to award novels that break the mould or open up new possibilities for the novel form. Previous winners are Ali Smith for How to Be Both and Eimear MacBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. There won’t be a female winner this year, however, as the shortlist is all male. The other shortlisted authors are: Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard; Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter; The Field of the Cloth of Gold by Magnus Mills, and Lurid & Cute by Adam Thirlwell.

Beatlebone by Kevin Barry will be released on November 17th.


5 under 35

News of another Stinging Fly alumni now – Colin Barrett. The National Book Foundation in America has announced its tenth annual 5 under 35 honorees, and the Young Skins author has been included on the list. Given to authors under the age of thirty five who have published one work of fiction in the last five years, Barrett is the first Irish writer to receive this honour.


A Wail of a Time

An exciting new literary magazine, Banshee, launched this past week in Cork and Dublin. Founded by Laura Jane Cassidy, Claire Hennessy (a recent Fortnightly Fiction contributor) and Eimear Ryan, the biannual lit-mag aims to publish ‘exciting, accessible, contemporary writing from Ireland and around the world’. The inaugural issue features a captivating mixture of emerging and established talent, including Jessica Traynor, Dylan Brennan, Deirdre Sullivan, Victoria Kennefick, Michael Naughten Shanks and Nuala Ní Chonchúir. Issue 1 can be purchased here, and they are now accepting submissions for Issue 2.

Austen App

A treat for all you Jane Austen fans out there: the Jane Austen Daily Quote app is now a reality. There are 365 quotes on the app, one of which will be sent to you every day for a year. The app was released by the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, and comes with information on Austen’s life and the era in which she lived. The Jane Austen Centre director, David Baldock, believes Austen quotes are loved because ‘they’re always witty, lively, succinct, and very perceptive.’

Folio Prize Suspended

2011 wasn’t the best year for the Man Booker Prize. The judges’ focus on “readability” rather than artistic achievement resulted in a fierce backlash, with critics angered by the perceived dumbing down of the prize. As a result, certain figures in the literary establishment set about creating an alternative to the Booker Prize, an award that would go onto become the Folio Prize. As co-founder Andrew Kidd put it, the award ‘celebrates excellence and is judged by experts in the field of literature’. The Folio Prize first ran in 2013 and was won by George Saunders for his short story collection, Tenth of December.

Just two years later, however, the prize is in trouble. A statement on the prize website reads: “As we continue our work to secure a new sponsor for the Folio Prize, we have decided not to run a prize in March 2016. Instead, we are concentrating our resources on another promising development for the spring, while at the same time exploring how the prize might best fulfil its aim of bringing great books to readers in the future.”

Here’s hoping a new sponsor can soon be found to help fund this worthwhile prize.

George Saunders, winner of the 2013 Folio Prize.
George Saunders, winner of the 2013 Folio Prize.

Award-winning Author Banned from Britain

Despite living in Britain for nineteen years, having a house in London, and a British wife, the author Ishtiyaq Shukri was recently refused entry back into Britain.

Shukri is best know for his novel, The Silent Minaret, a story about a South African Muslim boy facing prejudice in London following the events of 9/11. The novel won the European Union Literary Award in 2004.

He arrived into Heathrow on July 14th, where he was taken aside and interrogated for nine hours. Following his interrogation, his residency stamp was rescinded and Shukri was deported back to South Africa. Shukri had spent the last two years outside Britain, at first caring for his ill mother in South Africa, and later travelling to Yemen where his wife was Country Director for Oxfam. As a result, he was told he no longer qualified as a returning resident.

Shukri believes it likely that there was a racial component to his ill-treatment. “In the face of my efforts to overcome race, I am vexed to wonder whether, given the evidence, had my name been John Smith, I would have been extended [more] benefits”.

You can read Shukri’s account of his “humiliating” experience here.



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