All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one’ (Walter Benjamin)

‘I have laid a plan for something new, quite out of the beaten track’ (Laurence Sterne)

Novel, n. Something new (OED)

The Goldsmiths Prize was established in 2013 to celebrate the qualities of creative daring associated with the University and to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form. The annual prize of £10,000 is awarded to a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best.

Launched in the tercentenary year of the births of Laurence Sterne and Denis Diderot, the Goldsmiths Prize champions fiction that shares something of the exuberant inventiveness and restlessness with conventions manifest in Tristram Shandy and Jacques the Fatalist. The modern equivalents of Sterne and Diderot are often labelled ‘experimental,’ with the implication that their fiction is an eccentric deviation from the novel’s natural concerns, structures and idioms. A long view of the novel’s history, however, suggests that it is the most flexible and varied of genres, and the Goldsmiths Prize seeks to encourage and reward writers who make best use of its many resources and possibilities.

While debate about the nature of the novel and the directions it should or should not take has had key moments of intensity since Virginia Woolf published ‘Modern Novels’ in 1919, it is as old as the genre itself. Yet serious discussion of the art of fiction is now too often confined to the pages of learned journals, and we hope the prize will stimulate a much wider debate about fiction. To contribute to the dialogue, the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre hosts a series of prize-related events each year, including readings from critically acclaimed contemporary novelists and the shortlisted writers.

2023 winner: Cuddy by Benjamin Myers

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2023

2022 winner: Diego Garcia by Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2022

2021 winner: Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2021

2020 winner: The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2020

2019 winner: Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

More about the Goldmiths Prize 2019

2018 winner: The Long Take by Robin Robertson

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2018

2017 winner: H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2017

2016 winner: Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2016

2015 winner: Beatlebone by Kevin Barry

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2015

2014 winner: How to be Both by Ali Smith

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2014

2013 winner: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

More about the Goldsmiths Prize 2013