Longlist announced for Gordon Burn Prize 2023-24

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The twelve-strong longlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2023-24 has been revealed today (Thursday 7 December), recognising fiction and non-fiction books that are fearless in their ambition and execution.

Founded in 2012 by New Writing North, Faber & Faber and the Gordon Burn Trust, the Gordon Burn Prize has built a reputation for identifying and celebrating brilliant books that often find their readers outside the mainstream. The prize will be awarded in March 2024 in Gordon Burn’s home city, Newcastle upon Tyne, with support from Newcastle University and NCLA, the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.

The prize remembers the writer Gordon Burn who died in 2009, seeking to celebrate those who follow in his footsteps. A journalist and author of ten books, Burn’s work includes the novels Alma Cogan and Fullalove and non-fiction titles Pocket Money: Inside the World of Snooker and Happy Like Murderers: The Story of Fred and Rosemary West. Like Gordon’s own work, the books recognised by the Gordon Burn Prize often push boundaries, cross genres, or otherwise challenge readers’ expectations.

Preti Taneja won the prize in 2022 for Aftermath, a work of narrative non-fiction that blurs genres and form to understand terror, trauma and grief. Previous winners have included Hanif Abdurraqib’s collection of essays on black culture, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance; Peter Pomerantsev’s This is Not Propaganda, a study on the war against reality; David Keenan’s novel For the Good Times, set during the height of the Troubles in 1970s Belfast; Denise Mina’s true crime novel The Long Drop; and In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile, by Dan Davies.

The longlist was selected by the Gordon Burn Prize 2023-24 judges:
Terri White (chair), journalist, screenwriter and author of the memoir Coming Undone.
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, journalist, columnist, and editor of books including Black Joy and Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children.
Andrew Hankinson, journalist and author of Don’t applaud. Either laugh or don’t. (At the Comedy Cellar.) and You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You are Raoul Moat].
Sheena Patel, author of I’m a Fan, member of the 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE writing collective, and assistant director for film and TV.

The judges will also select the shortlist, which will be announced in January 2024, and the winner, which will be announced on 7 March 2024. The winning writer will receive £10,000 and the chance to undertake a writing retreat at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire.

Terri White, chair of the Gordon Burn Prize 2023-24 judges, said:

“Drawing up the Gordon Burn Prize longlist for 2023-24, with our wonderful judges Sheena, Andrew and Charlie, was an honour and my god, a brain-melting challenge.

As ever, the Gordon Burn Prize recognises work that innovates, interrogates, subverts and surprises; has voice, vision and verve. That challenges form, kicks back against what we’re told is ‘literary’ – in content and shape – and prioritises the original and the authentic.

Our longlist of 12 takes in fiction, memoir, true crime, investigative journalism, folklore, poetry and work that frankly doesn’t care about our definitions (and limitations) of genre. Books that explore intergenerational trauma, the contemporary thirst for true crime, re-imagining of histories, our relationship with celebrity culture, the impact of coming of age online, and the radical nature of an ordinary life. That all, in some way, speak to living in 2023, and vitally, keep the spirit of Gordon Burn alive and well.

If the vigorous, lively, rather loud long-listing was anything to go by, I’m going to need a long lie-down before we get to shortlisting. Which is exactly what judging for the Gordon Burn Prize should be like: knackering, exhilarating, exacting and a little bit too much.”

Professor Jo Robinson, Head of the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, said:

“Newcastle University, and NCLA, are delighted to be working with New Writing North to support the Gordon Burn Prize in 2023-24 and beyond.”

The Gordon Burn Prize 2023-24 longlist is:
Chain-Gang All-Stars, Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah (Harvill Secker)
Killing Thatcher, Rory Carroll (Mudlark)
Bellies, Nicola Dinan (Doubleday)
Is This OK?, Harriet Gibsone (Picador)
If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery (4th Estate)
Busy Being Free, Emma Forrest (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)
Wifedom, Anna Funder (Viking)
Cuddy, Benjamin Myers (Bloomsbury Circus)
O Brother, John Niven (Canongate Books)
Ordinary Human Failings, Megan Nolan (Jonathan Cape)
Kick The Latch, Kathryn Scanlan (Daunt Originals)
Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq (And Other Stories)