2020 Prize

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

“M. John Harrison has produced a literary masterpiece that will continue to be read in 100 years time, if the planet survives that long” Frances Wilson, Chair of Judges.

Read our news story about the winner.

About the Shortlist

From D B C Pierre’s smarting satire of smartphone culture to Paul Griffith’s elegant imagining of Beethoven in Boston, the six books shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 are concerned with characters in extremis and loss of moorings. While Monique Roffey’s 'The Mermaid of Black Conch' blends 'Moby Dick' with 'Metamorphosis' in a polyphonic reflection on racial and sexual identity, M John Harrison’s 'The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again' returns us to 'The Water Babies' in a fishy tale of hallucinogenic beauty and strangeness. Xiaolu Guo’s 'A Lover’s Discourse' places Roland Barthes in Brexit Britain in a delicate and witty love story between East and West, and Anakana Schofield’s 'Bina', a black comedy about euthanasia, is told as a series of warnings scribbled on the backs of envelopes by a woman who has had enough –a feeling many of us can share in these fragile and fractured times.

Dr Frances Wilson, Chair of Judges

The Judges

Frances Wilson (Chair)

Frances Wilson is a biographer and critic.

Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey (Bloomsbury) was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction 2016 and short-listed for the National Book Critics Circles Award, the LA Times Book Awards, and the BIO Plutarch Prize. It was named Book of the Year in The Guardian, TLS, Spectator, and Telegraph, and cited by Booklist as one of the ten best-reviewed books in America during 2016.

How to Survive the Titanic: Or, the Sinking of J Bruce Ismay (Bloomsbury, 2011) won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth (Faber, 2008) won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Award.

Her other books include The Courtesan’s Revenge: Harriette Wilson, the Woman Who Blackmailed the King (Book of the Week, Radio 4) and Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers. She is currently writing a life of D H Lawrence.

Will Eaves

Will Eaves is a novelist and poet. He has twice been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize.

His most recent novel, Murmur, a meditation on the life and work of the computer science pioneer Alan Turing, won the Wellcome Book Prize in 2019. Broken Consort, a book of essays, will be published later this year.

He is a columnist for the Brixton Review of Books and co-host with Professor Sophie Scott of The Neuromantics, a podcast on science and literature.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is a writer, academic and overall lover of stories.

She was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, Zimbabwe, and England. Sarah is a novelist, short story writer and essayist.

Her debut novel, In Dependence, is an international bestseller while her second novel, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2016 and has been translated into a number of languages.

Sarah serves as Board Director for the women's writing residency, Hedgebrook.

Chris Power

Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers was published in 2018. It was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, and shortlisted for the 2019 Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

He writes regularly for the New Statesman and the Guardian. His column, ‘A Brief Survey of the Short Story’, has appeared in that paper since 2007.

His fiction has been published in Granta, Five Dials, The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review, and The White Review, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

His next book, a novel, will be published in 2021. He lives with his family in London.