Gordon Burn Prize 2018: 13-strong longlist highlights fearless works of fiction and non-fiction

Laura Fraine

The longlist is announced today for the Gordon Burn Prize 2018, which seeks to reward some of the boldest and most fearless new books published in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Denise Mina won the prize in 2017 for her true crime novel The Long Drop. Previous winners have included David Szalay’s linked collection of short stories, All That Man Is, and In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile by Dan Davies.


Gordon Burn’s writing was precise and rigorous, and often blurred the line between fact and fiction. He wrote across a wide range of subjects, from celebrities to serial killers, politics to contemporary art; his works include the novels Fullalove and Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel and non-fiction Happy Like Murderers: The Story of Fred and Rosemary West, Best and Edwards: Football, Fame and Oblivion and Sex & Violence, Death & Silence: Encounters with Recent Art.


The Gordon Burn Prize, founded in 2012 and run in partnership by the Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North, Faber & Faber and Durham Book Festival, seeks to celebrate the work of those who follow in his footsteps: novels that dare to enter history and interrogate the past; non-fiction adventurous enough to inhabit characters and events to create new and vivid realities. The prize is open to works in English published between 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2018, by writers of any nationality or descent who are resident in the United Kingdom or the United States of America.


The longlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2018 is:


The judges for the Gordon Burn Prize 2018 are critic and journalist Alex Clark, chair of the judges, poet and author Kei Miller, artist Gillian Wearing and musician Andrew Weatherall. The shortlist will be announced on 19 July and the prize itself will be awarded at Durham Town Hall at the Durham Book Festival, a Durham County Council festival, on Thursday 11 October 2018.


Carol Gorner, on behalf of the Gordon Burn Trust, said:

“This year there has been an extraordinary diversity of subjects and styles – I shall be fascinated to see which books the judges agree on.”


Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North, said:

“Each year the books we consider for the prize expand my horizons and draw to our attention to writers at the forefront of either imagining what a novel can be or pushing non-fiction in new directions. Gordon’s work often grasped a moment in time and offered it up viewed through a new lens and many of the books on this list do just that, whether through football, serial killers or culture. The selection this year is stunning: writers pushing at how to shape stories and reflect lives that we don’t always see – whether that’s Mexican boxers or women turning into foxes.”




For all media enquiries, including high res images and interview requests, please contact Laura Fraine, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, New Writing North 0191 204 8850


Notes to Editors

Previous winners of the Gordon Burn Prize

2017 The Long Drop, Denise Mina

2016 All That Man Is, David Szalay

2015 In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile, Dan Davies

2014 The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth

2013 Beastings, Benjamin Myers



Biographies of longlisted authors


Viv Albertine is a songwriter and musician and was the guitarist in cult post-punk band The Slits. She was a key player in British counter-culture before her career in TV and film directing. Her first solo album, The Vermilion Border, was released in 2012, and her memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, was a Sunday Times, Mojo, Rough Trade, and NME Book of the Year in 2014, as well as being shortlisted for the National Book Awards.


Roberta Allen is the author of nine books, including three collections of short fiction, The Traveling Woman (Vehicle Editions), Certain People (Coffee House Press) and The Princess of Herself (Pelekinesis); a novella in short stories, The Daughter (Autonomedia); a memoir, Amazon Dream (City Lights); the novel The Dreaming Girl (Painted Leaf 2000, Ellipsis Press 2011); and several writing guides. Her shorts and short stories have appeared in over 300 journals, including Conjunctions, Guernica, Bomb, The Brooklyn Rail, The Collagist, among many others.


Jesse Ball is the award-winning author of over ten books of prose, poetry, drawings and essays. He lives in Chicago.


Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She is the author of twelve novels – including Wide Open, Darkmans, The Yips and In the Approaches – and two short story collections. She has been twice longlisted and once shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, has won the IMPAC, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Hawthornden Prizes, and was named one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Writers in 2003. Her latest novel, H(a)ppy, won the 2017 Goldsmiths Prize. She lives and works in east London.


Guy Gunaratne grew up in north west London and has worked as a designer, documentary film-maker and video journalist covering post-conflict areas around the world, as well as co-founding two technology companies. He was shortlisted for the 4th Estate/Guardian Books B4ME Short Story Prize.


Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974. She is the prize-winning author of five novels – HaweswaterThe Electric MichelangeloThe Carhullan Army, How to Paint a Dead Man and The Wolf Border – as well as The Beautiful Indifference, a collection of short stories, which won the Portico Prize and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. The first story in the collection, ‘Butchers Perfume’, was also shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award –a prize Hall won in 2013 with ‘Mrs Fox’.


Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. She writes for the Guardian, New Statesman and Frieze among many other publications. Her first book, To the River, was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The Trip to Echo Spring was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Gordon Burn Prize. The Lonely City was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, and translated into 15 languages. In 2018 she was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize. She lives in London.


Richard T. Kelly is the author of the novels Crusaders (2008), The Possessions of Doctor Forrest (2011) and The Knives (2016). As a contributing editor to Esquire magazine he writes regularly on great figures in football, from George Best to Zinedine Zidane to Pep Guardiola. His non-fiction books include Alan Clarke (1998) and Sean Penn: His Life and Times (2004), and in 2013 he co-wrote Judith Tebbutt’s Sunday Times bestseller A Long Walk Home.


Deborah Levy is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of six novels: Beautiful Mutants, Swallowing Geography, The Unloved, Billy & Girl, Swimming Home and Hot Milk. Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 as well as the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize, and Hot Milk was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and the Goldsmiths Prize 2016. Deborah is also the author of a collection of short stories, Black Vodka, which was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and the memoir, Things I Don’t Want to Know, which forms the first part of her living autobiography trilogy.


Ian Marchant is originally from Newhaven in East Sussex, and now lives with his family in the no longer extant Welsh county of Radnorshire. He has published seven books, including the travel/memoirs Parallel LinesThe Longest Crawl and Something of the Night. He is a sometimes presenter of documentaries for BBC Radio, and has appeared numerous times at festivals (including Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and Wilderness) as one half of semi-legendary hippie cabaret duo, Your Dad.


Michelle McNamara (1970 – 2016) was the author of the website She earned an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Minnesota and had sold television pilots to ABC and Fox, and a screenplay to Paramount. She also worked as a consultant for Dateline NBC.


Graham Robb was born in Manchester in 1958 and is a former fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He has published widely on French literature and history. His 2007 book The Discovery of France won both the Duff Cooper and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prizes. For Parisians (2010) the City of Paris awarded him the Grande Médaille de la Ville de Paris. He lives on the English – Scottish border.


Willy Vlautin is the prize-winning author of four acclaimed novels, The Motel LifeNorthlineLean on Pete, which was shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and The Free, which was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. He is also the frontman of the band Richmond Fontaine, whose many albums include Post to Wire, and more recently founded The Delines. Andrew Haigh’s film of Lean on Pete was released in the UK in May 2018.