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The Gordon Burn Prize

The Gordon Burn Prize seeks to reward a published title – fiction or non-fiction – which represents the spirit and sensibility of Gordon’s literary methods. We love novels which dare to enter history and to interrogate the past and non-fiction brave enough to recast characters and historical events to create a new and vivid reality.

At a glance

The prize

The winning writer will receive £5,000 and the chance to undertake a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders. The prize is announced at Durham Book Festival.


The musician Rachel Unthank, broadcaster and journalist Miranda Sawyer, writer AA Dhand and artist Gary Hume will judge the 2019 Gordon Burn Prize.

Prize winners

Jesse Ball was awarded the Gordon Burn Prize in 2018 for his novel Census.

Previous winners of the prize are Denise Mina (The Long Drop) in 2017; David Szalay (All That Man Is) in 2016; the journalist Dan Davies (In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile), 2015; and the novelists Paul Kingsnorth (The Wake), 2014 and Benjamin Myers (Pig Iron), 2013.

Remembering Gordon Burn

The Gordon Burn Prize was founded in 2012 by the Gordon Burn Trust, Faber & Faber (Gordon’s publisher), New Writing North and Durham Book Festival, to remember the North East writer Gordon Burn.

Gordon Burn was a writer for whom no subject or character was beyond fictionalising. Peter Sutcliffe, Alma Cogan, Duncan Edwards, George Best and Bobby Charlton, Damien Hirst, Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher, and even Gordon Burn himself: Burn loved to take characters already burnished in the celebrity spotlight and explore the darkness beneath. Sometimes he would choose fiction to do this, as in his Whitbread Prize-winning debut, Alma Cogan; other times – and sometimes within the same book – his methods and intentions were more ambiguous. The reader begins to question the very nature of what he is reading. Fiction? Non-fiction? Faction? Or, as celebrated by the likes of Norman Mailer in the late Sixties, the non-fiction novel.

Gordon Burn belonged, and felt himself to belong, to an American tradition born in the High Sixties. A lover of Capote, Mailer and New Journalism, in his career as a writer, Gordon applied the rigour and tenacity of a reporter and journalist to what was often a fictional template. He loved novels like DeLillo’s Libra (a fictional telling of the Lee Harvey Oswald story) and carved out a unique place for himself in contemporary British writing, often responding to real, spectacular, sometimes appalling events.

The latest from the Gordon Burn Prize


The Gordon Burn Prize is now open for entry until Thursday 14 March 2019. See the Gordon Burn Prize site for more details and to enter.

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