A novel in verse exploring post-war America and shot-through with film noir imagery has won the Goldsmiths Prize 2018.
Robin Robertson was announced as the winner of the £10,000 prize rewarding fiction at its most novel at a ceremony at the Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art on 14 November 2018. Robertson is an acclaimed poet; The Long Take is his first novel, and the first verse novel to win the Goldsmiths Prize.
Though narrative in verse is as old as Homer, in The Long Take Robertson creates a hybrid form of his own. Free verse is mixed with typographical borrowings from street signs and text snatched from notebooks and journals, and interrupted by vivid prose flashbacks to the horrors of war.
The language of hard-boiled fiction and noir reportage mirrors the disrupted cityscapes of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as Walker, a veteran of the Second World War, is plunged into a rootless world of barflies and down-and-outs, and a country busy remaking itself where there is little room for heroism or comradeship.
The judging panel was made up of Chair of Judges Adam Mars-Jones, writers Deborah Levy and Elif Shafak, and literary critic and New Statesman columnist Nicholas Lezard.
Adam Mars-Jones, Research Professor of Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, said: “The judges are proud to salute Robin Robertson’s The Long Take, a film noir verse novel full of blinding sunlight and lingering shadows, technically accomplished, formally resourceful and emotionally unsparing.”
Only works by authors from the UK and Republic of Ireland are eligible for the Goldsmiths Prize, launched in association with the New Statesman in 2013. It is committed to rewarding British and Irish fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form.
Culture Editor of the New Statesman Tom Gatti said: “An intensely evocative and formally dexterous work, The Long Take is a more than worthy winner of the Goldsmiths. The New Statesman continues to support the prize’s mission to celebrate the novel in all its glorious guises.”
Robin Robertson was brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland and now lives in London. He has published five collections of poetry and received honours including the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and all three Forward Prizes. His selected poems, Sailing the Forest, was published in 2014 and The Long Take was published in February 2018.
Eimear McBride was the first winner of the £10,000 prize for her work A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing. Subsequent winners were Ali Smith in 2014 for How to Be Both, Kevin Barry in 2015 for Beatlebone, Mike McCormack in 2016 for Solar Bones, and Nicola Barker in 2017 for H(a)ppy.