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Benjamin Myers’ bold and experimental work Cuddy has won the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for mould-breaking fiction.
The triumphant new novel from Myers was announced as the winner of the Goldsmiths Prize in association with the New Statesman, at a ceremony in London on Wednesday 8 November 2023.
Incorporating poetry, prose, play, diary and real historical accounts, Cuddy retells the story of the hermit St. Cuthbert, the unofficial patron saint of the North of England.
On winning the prize, Benjamin Myers said: "It’s a big surprise to win the Goldsmiths Prize. I genuinely didn’t think it was going to be given to my book. It probably sounds a bit ingenuous or a little bit humble but I think it’s such a strange experience being a writer because you exist in isolation for a long period and this book took four years to write and I didn’t show any of it to anyone until it went to my publisher.
“The books that are chosen [for the Goldsmiths Prize] are challenging, experimental, expansive, interesting, and as a result, the writers of those books offer a very broad section of what’s going on in literature today. I think anyone on the shortlist this year was deserving of the prize so congratulations to all the other writers who were on the shortlist as well.”
Cuddy straddles historical eras - from the first Christian-slaying Viking invaders of the holy island of Lindisfarne in the 8th century to a contemporary England defined by class and austerity.
Dr Tom Lee, Chair of Judges said: “Benjamin Myers' Cuddy is a book of remarkable range, virtuosity and creative daring. A millennia-spanning epic told in a multitude of perfectly realised voices, this visionary story of St Cuthbert and the cathedral built in his honour echoes through the ages. The reader comes away with a renewed and breathless sense of what a novel of this ambition is capable of.”
Professor Frances Corner OBE, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London said: “The Goldsmiths Prize is a unique recognition of authors who dare to challenge convention – and with the support of our media partner The New Statesman, it has grown into an important, distinctive fixture in the literary calendar here in the UK.
“My warmest congratulations go to all nominees, and to Benjamin Myers for his winning novel, Cuddy.”
Tom Gatti, executive editor at The New Statesman said: “Congratulations to Benjamin Myers for his extraordinary novel Cuddy – a prime example of the sort of ambitious, vital fiction that Goldsmiths and the New Statesman founded the prize to celebrate.”
Now in its 11th year, the Goldsmiths Prize celebrates fiction at its most novel. The 2023 shortlist, described by the chair of judges Tom Lee as ‘ambitious and inventive’ included:
Lori & Joe by Amy Arnold
The Long Form by Kate Briggs
Never Was by Gareth H Gavin
Man Eating Typewriter by Richard Milward
Cuddy by Benjamin Myers
The Future Future by Adam Thirlwell
Benjamin will appear at the Cambridge Literary Festival, in conversation with Goldsmiths Prize judge Maddie Mortimer whose first novel Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies was shortlisted for the 2022 Goldsmiths Prize and won the Desmond Elliott Prize, and Tom Gatti executive editor at the New Statesman.
The judging panel for 2023 was made up of authors Helen Oyeyemi and Maddie Mortimer, the New Statesman’s Ellen Peirson-Hagger, and lecturer in creative writing at Goldsmiths, Tom Lee.
Launched by Goldsmiths in association with the New Statesman in 2013, the annual £10,000 prize for fiction at its most novel recognises writing that breaks the mould, opens up new possibilities for the novel form, and embodies the spirit of invention.
Find out more about the winners, judges and competition on the Goldsmiths Prize website.