Friday, March 10, 2017

Fitzcarraldo Wins Republic of Consciousness Prize for *Counternarratives*!

Republic of Consciousness
Prize Announcement

Yesterday evening in a cozy room in London, as I moved through my usual Thursday workday, meeting with students and giving a mid-term exam in Newark, the ceremony for the inaugural Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses was underway. Last fall I blogged about this new prize, which author and publisher Neil Griffiths established to honor smaller British presses that took the financial risk, which is substantial, of publishing more formally and thematically challenging writing. As the RoCP's initial announcement stated, the prize selection criteria could be boiled down to two elements, "hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose." In November the British edition of Counternarratives, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions, was named to its longlist, and subsequently its shortlist of eight finalists in January.

Neil Griffiths, speaking to RoCP's
ceremony audience, Fyvie Hall
At the packed London ceremony in Fyvie Hall on Regents Street, Griffiths, accompanied by the judges, and in the presence of the nominated publishers and their staff, journalists, writers, editors, and other members of the British literary world, announced that Fitzcarraldo was the winner of the first Republic of Consciousness Prize for Counternarratives! In their unanimous decision, the six-judge jury described the collection as a "once in a generation achievement for short-form fiction," and lauded its "subject matter, formal inventiveness, multitude of voices, and seriousness of purpose." Fitzcarraldo publisher Jacques Testard and Fitzcarraldo PR guru Nicolette Praça were there to accept the prize, and Testard offered remarks about the award's importance for Fitzcarraldo and for small presses in the UK and everywhere.

Fitzcarraldo received the top £3000 prize, and the shortlist finalists, which were Tramp Press, which published Briton Mike McCormack’s novel Solar Bones (winner of the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize) and & Other Stories, which published Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield’s novel Martin John, each received £1000. In addition, publisher Galley Beggar received the Best First Novel or Collection Prize and £1000 for UK author Paul Stanbridge’s Forbidden Line, which Griffiths praised for its "multitudinous energy." The Guardian wrote up the ceremony; you can find the article here. Publishing site The Bookseller also wrote about the prize here. You can also hear Testard and Griffiths spoke about the award and small presses in a radio interview on the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London (beginning at 1:09:20).

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I've never had the pleasure of meeting Jacques Testard in person, but he, Nicolette Praça and everyone affiliated with Fitzcarraldo have been a dream to work with, and I am very thankful that he took the leap of publishing my book. (And especially delighted still in the press's choice of Yves Klein International Blue for its fiction covers!) Many thanks also to the prize jury, who unanimously chose Counternarratives, and once again, a million thanks to Neil Griffiths for establishing the award, for his work as an author and publisher, and for his advocacy of small-press publishing.