2019 Prize

2019 Winner: Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

"Ducks, Newburyport is that rare thing: a book which, not long after its publication, one can unhesitatingly call a masterpiece. In her gripping and hypnotic book, Ellmann remakes the novel and expands the reader’s idea of what is possible with the form. We are lucky to have such a winner this year" Erica Wagner, Chair of the Judges.

More about Ducks, Newburyport

About the Shortlist

The Goldsmiths Prize is now in its seventh year—lucky number seven, with such a terrific shortlist.

From the vast eidetic capaciousness of Lucy Ellman's Ducks, Newburyport to the slender and hectic compression of Isabel Waidner’s We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff, this year’s selection of six books not only offers a reminder that the novel remains a flexible and innovative form, but reflects our 21st-century political and cultural concerns.

Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything asks what it means to see politics and culture, venturing from East Berlin just before the fall of the Wall to post-Brexit Britain; Mark Haddon’s The Porpoise begins like a thriller but veers into the mythic echoes that underpin all our lives.

Amy Arnold’s Slip of a Fish deconstructs an English summer through the haunted consciousness of its protagonist and Vesna Main's Good Day? uses dialogue alone to ask that deceptively simple question: who gets to tell the story?

This list is a fascinating snapshot of the best British and Irish fiction around.  

(Dr Erica Wagner, Chair of Judges)

The Judges

Erica Wagner (Chair)

Photograph of Erica Wagner

Erica Wagner's most recent book is Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. She is the author of Ariel’s Gift, Seizure, and the short story collection Gravity; she is also the editor of First Light: A Celebration of Alan Garner.

She is consulting literary editor for Harper's Bazaar, a contributing writer for the New Statesman and was for 17 years literary editor of the The Times.

In 2014 she was the recipient of the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award, and she is a lecturer in creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Guy Gunaratne

Photograph of Guy Gunaratne

Guy Gunaratne is a writer. His first novel In Our Mad and Furious City was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 and shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018 and Gordon Burn Prize 2018.

He has worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker and has covered human rights stories around the world. He currently lives between London, UK and Malmö, Sweden.

Anna Leszkiewicz

Photograph of Anna Leszkiewicz

Anna Leszkiewicz is deputy culture editor of the New Statesman, where she writes a weekly culture column, as well as reviews, interviews, essays and features in the magazine and online.


Photograph of Sjón

Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic author. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox (the Nordic countries’ equivalent of the Man Booker Prize) and the novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

The novel Moonstone – The Boy Who Never Was received the Icelandic Literary Price. His latest work CoDex 1962, a novel in three books, was published in Iceland in 2016 to great acclaim. It is due in different languages in 2018/2019.

As a poet, librettist and lyricist, he has published nine poetry collections, written four opera libretti and lyrics for various artists. In 2001 he was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in the film Dancer In The Dark.

Sjón's novels have been published in thirty-five languages. He is the president of Icelandic PEN and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two children.

Note: Erica Wagner took over as chair in May 2019 after Maura Dooley withdrew due to ill health.