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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.

The prize is now open for entries until Tuesday 5 April 2022.

Hanif Abdurraqib wins the Gordon Burn Prize 2021

The 2021 Gordon Burn Prize was awarded to Hanif Abdurraqib for A Little Devil in America.

In this exhilarating and profound series of essays, Hanif Abdurraqib delivers a meditation on Black performance in the modern age that reaches back through the lives of musicians, cultural figures, history and his own life. In rhythmic prose, Abdurraqib peels away layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and his own personal history of love and grief – whether it’s the twenty-seven seconds of ‘Gimme Shelter’ in which Merry Clayton sings, or the magnificent hours of Aretha Franklin’s homegoing; Beyoncé’s Super Bowl half-time show or a schoolyard fistfight; Dave Chapelle’s skits or a game of spades among friends.

Hanif receives £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 2021 prize was announced on 14 October 2021 at Durham Book Festival.

See the Gordon Burn Prize site for more details.

Prize winners

2021: Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil in America
2020: Peter Pomerantsev, This Is Not Propaganda
2019: David Keenan, For the Good Times
2018: Jesse Ball, Census
2017: Denise Mina, The Long Drop
2016: David Szalay, All That Man Is
2015: Dan Davies, In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
2014: Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake
2013: Benjamin Myers, Pig Iron

Gordon Burn Prize 2021 judges

The sportswriter and columnist Jonathan Liew, broadcaster Stuart Maconie, artist Heather Phillipson and writer Chitra Ramaswamy will join chair of the judges, novelist Denise Mina, to judge the Gordon Burn Prize 2022. The prize is now open for entries until Tuesday 5 April 2022.

Remembering Gordon Burn

Gordon Burn was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1948 and brought up in a working-class household. He began his career as a journalist, writing for publications including the Guardian, Rolling Stone and Esquire, and becoming renowned as an interviewer and feature writer.

Gordon was the author of four novels: Alma Cogan (winner of the Whitbread First Novel Prize), Fullalove, The North of England Home Service and Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel. He was also the author of the non-fiction titles Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s SonPocket MoneyHappy Like MurderersOn the Way to Work (with Damien Hirst) and Best and Edwards. His last book, Sex & Violence, Death & Silence, was a collection of his essays on art.

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.

A literary polymath, Gordon Burn wrote about subjects as seemingly disparate as serial killers, celebrity, sport and art, often blurring the line between fact and fiction. He carved out a unique place for himself in contemporary British writing, often responding to real, spectacular, sometimes appalling events.

An art expert, Gordon counted many writers and artists amongst his friends, while remaining deeply suspicious of the establishment which made access difficult to those from backgrounds like his own. The prize founded in Gordon’s name aims to recognise brilliant writing that often finds its readers outside the mainstream and acknowledge the extent of his influence on subsequent generations of writers.

You can read more about Gordon Burn’s work and life on the Gordon Burn Trust website and in the Guardian.

The latest from the Gordon Burn Prize


The Gordon Burn Prize is now open for entry until Tuesday 31 March 2020. See the Gordon Burn Prize site for more details.

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