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Longlist Announced for Gordon Burn Prize 2021

The longlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2021 has been announced (Tuesday 22 June), as selected by chair of the judges, author Denise Mina; writer and poet Derek Owusu; novelist and short story writer Irenosen Okojie; and literary journalist and editor Sian Cain.

The prize is run in partnership by the Gordon Burn Trust, New Writing North, Faber & Faber and Durham Book Festival. The winner will be announced at Durham Book Festival, a Durham County Council festival, on Thursday 14 October 2021.

The Gordon Burn Prize, founded in 2012, remembers the late author of novels including Fullalove and Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel, and non-fiction including Happy Like Murderers: The Story of Fred and Rosemary West and Best and Edwards: Football, Fame and Oblivion.  

Now in its ninth year, the prize seeks to celebrate those who follow in Gordon Burn’s footsteps by recognising literature that is forward-thinking and fearless in both ambition and execution. The works recognised often make the reader think again, playing with style or genre, pushing boundaries or diverging from the mainstream literary culture.

Peter Pomerantsev won the Gordon Burn Prize in 2020 for This is Not Propaganda, his study on the war against reality. Previous winners have included David Keenan’s novel For the Good Times, set during the height of the Troubles in 1970s Belfast (2019); Census (2018), Jesse Ball’s fable inspired by his late brother; and Denise Mina’s true crime novel The Long Drop (2017).

A place on the longlist is reserved for the year’s boldest and most exciting fiction and non-fiction.

The Gordon Burn Prize 2021 longlist is:

A Ghost in the Throat (Tramp Press), Doireann Ní Ghríofa

A Little Devil in America (Penguin Press), Hanif Abdurraqib

A River Called Time (Canongate), Courttia Newland

Come Join Our Disease (Faber), Sam Byers

Diary of a Film (Dialogue), Niven Govinden

In The End it Was All About Love (Rough Trade Books), Musa Okwonga

Klopp: My Liverpool Romance (Faber), Anthony Quinn

Luckenbooth (William Heinemann), Jenni Fagan

Mrs Death Misses Death (Canongate), Salena Godden

My Phantoms (Granta), Gwendoline Riley

Open Water (Viking), Caleb Azumah Nelson

Sea State (HarperCollins), Tabitha Lasley

On selecting the longlist, Denise Mina said: This longlist is made up of an extraordinarily broad span of books, from sports biographies and collections of essays that question the performance of performance, to debut novels from breathtaking talents. This is a wonderful selection and they all challenged and delighted our judging panel, and reflect Gordon Burn’s own wide ranging wide artistic ambitions and interests. It has been a joy to find books we might not have met otherwise.