Takes £5,000 prize with first title to be published in the UK
The 2018 Gordon Burn Prize has gone to Jesse Ball, for Census (Granta).Ball received the £5,000 prize at a ceremony last night at the Durham Book Festival. He also gets the opportunity to take a three-month writing retreat at Gordon Burn's cottage in the Scottish Borders.
The judges were Alex Clark, Kei Miller, Gillian Wearing, and Andrew Weatherall. Wearing said of the winning novel: "It was like walking through someone's surreal grieving mind as they attempt to make sense of existence. This is a beautiful, moving book and unlike any I have read before." Census follows a terminally ill father and his son as they carry out their duties as census takers.
Ball has published more than 10 books of prose and poetry in the United States, but Census is his first UK publication. In 2008 he was awarded The Paris Review's Plimpton Prize for his story "The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp & Carr", and in 2015 his novel A Cure for Suicide was longlisted for the National Book Awards. Ball was named one of the Granta Best of Young American Novelists in 2017.
Also shortlisted were works by Nicola Barker, Guy Gunaratne, Olivia Laing, Deborah Levy, and Michelle McNamara.
The prize is run in partnership by New Writing North, Durham Book Festival, Faber, and the Gordon Burn Trust. It is designed "to celebrate the legacy of the late Gordon Burn and to champion work - fearless non-fiction and bold, genre-defying fiction - that follows in his footsteps".
Photo: Jesse Ball receiving the prize trophy from judge Alex Clark