Longlist announced for Gordon Burn Prize 2020

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We are excited to announce the twelve-strong longlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2020.

Now in its eighth year, the literary prize celebrates both fiction and non-fiction, rewarding works that stand out in the scale of their endeavour, often challenging readers’ expectations or pushing perceived boundaries of genre, sensibility or even the role of literature itself. A place on the longlist is reserved for the year’s boldest and most fearless works.

The Gordon Burn Prize was founded in 2012 and is run in partnership by the Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North, Faber & Faber and Durham Book Festival. The prize seeks to celebrate those who follow in the footsteps of the groundbreaking author Gordon Burn, who died in 2009 and whose work includes the novels Alma Cogan and Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel and non-fiction Happy Like Murderers: The True Story of Fred and Rosemary West and Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son: The Story of the Yorkshire Ripper, all of which were reissued by Faber & Faber in 2019.

David Keenan won the Gordon Burn Prize in 2019 for his novel For the Good Times, set during the height of the Troubles in 1970s Belfast, where Sammy and his friends love sharp clothes and the songs of Perry Como – and are uncompromising in their dream of a Free State. Previous winners have included Census (2018), Jesse Ball’s fable inspired by his late brother; Denise Mina’s true crime novel The Long Drop (2017); and David Szalay’s linked collection of short stories, All That Man Is (2016).

The prize is open to works in English by writers of any nationality or descent who are resident in the United Kingdom, Ireland or the United States of America.


The longlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2020 is:

Jenn Ashworth, Notes Made While Falling (Goldsmiths Press)

Luke Brown, Theft (And Other Stories)

Garth Greenwell, Cleanness (Picador)

Kirstin Innes, Scabby Queen (4th Estate)

Mark Lanegan, Sing Backwards and Weep (White Rabbit)

Casey Legler, Godspeed (Scribe)

Paul Mendez, Rainbow Milk (Dialogue)

Jenny Offill, Weather (Granta)

Deborah Orr, Motherwell (W&N)

Peter Pomerantsev, This Is Not Propaganda (Faber)

Lemn Sissay, My Name Is Why (Canongate)

Lisa Taddeo, Three Women (Bloomsbury)


The judges for the Gordon Burn Prize 2020 are writer Anthony Anaxagorou, artist Rachel Howard, journalist and broadcaster Sali Hughes and author Richard T. Kelly. The shortlist will be announced later in the summer, before the prize itself is presented in a digital ceremony hosted by Durham Book Festival, a Durham County Council festival, on Thursday 15 October 2020.