The Sunken Land Begins To Rise Again won the Goldsmiths Prize, an amazing result in a field of such strength.
I’d like to thank everyone involved–the panel, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Will Eaves, Chris Power, and Frances Wilson their chair of judges; all the brilliant writers on the shortlist, a wide-ranging collection of talent and ambition, any one of whom I’d be delighted to encounter as a reviewer; the New Statesman whose sponsorship of the award is so vital; the Goldsmiths team, Tim Parnell, Olivia Franchini and Erica Wagner, who–in the face of lockdown limitations, and denied the party they felt we all deserved–made such a success of of the Zoom-based celebrations.
An idiosyncratic novel is always a difficult sell inside the industry, which is also generally suspicious of authors with a determined idea of how their work should be presented and to whom. That’s why prizes like the Goldsmiths are so important. This time my case has been made for me, suddenly and with considerable elegance. I’m glad, because after you’re 60, you may remain in some way determined to break the rules; but the effort of having to constantly explain or excuse yourself can be tiring.
It’s a cliche that no one writes a book, or has a life in books, on their own. The list of people I have to thank for the friendship, the emotional and professional support, the unfailing intellectual generosity that scaffolded the writing of The Sunken Land, is endless. But they know who they are, and I’m planning to thank them privately, in real life, one by one, as soon as that becomes possible again.