Students Staff

14 October 2013

Goldsmiths Prize 2013 shortlisting for Professor Philip Terry

Front cover of Tapestry by Philip Terry

Front cover of tapestry by Professor Philip Terry

Professor Philip Terry, director of Creative Writing in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) at Essex, has been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2013 for his book tapestry.

A total of 123 novels were entered for the Goldsmiths Prize in this its inaugural year. These have now been reduced to a shortlist of six boldly original works of fiction. The prize was established to create and showcase creative daring and exuberant inventiveness. Launching in the tercentenary year of the births of Laurence Sterne and Denis Diderot, the Goldsmiths Prize will go to a novel that shares something of the exuberant inventiveness and restlessness with conventions manifest in Tristram Shandy and Jacques the Fatalist.

Professor Terry said: “It’s great to have a fiction prize in Britain at last that rewards formal experiment, and whose presiding genius is the author of Tristram Shandy.”

Taking as its starting point marginal images in the Bayeux Tapestry, which have been left largely unexplained by historians, Terry retells in tapestry the story of the Norman Conquest from the point of view of the tapestry’s English embroiderers. Combining magic realism and Oulipian techniques. The novel is a tour de force of narrative and language which alters our conceptions of both mediaeval history and the story behind the Bayeux Tapestry.

Professor Terry has been been praised by the prize organisers for creating "linguistically rich narratives drawn from the margins of the Bayeux Tapestry".

Novelist, playwright and member of the judging panel Gabriel Josipovici said: "This strange novel about the nuns who made the Bayeux Tapestry and the stories they tell each other as they do so and secretly include in its margins, owes something to Calvino and Queneau, though its weird language, a strange mixture of faux medievalism with sudden hilarious lurches into present-day idiom, is entirely Terry’s. And it works, making us think again about the close connection of art and propaganda at the same time as it slyly inverts the language of propaganda and teaches us to read slowly. One of the oddest and most delightful books I have read in a long time."

The winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2013 will be announced on 13 November 2013.

Tim Parnell, Chair of Judges, commented: ‘In the prize’s inaugural year, we are delighted to announce a shortlist that so clearly exemplifies the spirit of the award. All six books are strikingly original and all of them refuse the ready comforts of convention. Making full use of the resources and possibilities of the novel form, each writer has found the distinct idiom that their story demands.’

Blake Morrison, Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, said: "The merely odd doesn’t last, Dr Johnson said, dismissing Tristram Shandy. But the interestingly innovative does last, and this fascinating shortlist, spanning the Bayeux Tapestry at one end and Bill Shankly at the other, is evidence of the range and vitality of novels coming out of Britain and Ireland today."

Philip Maughan of the New Statesman added: "By focusing on writers committed to making it new, the Goldsmiths Prize judges have produced a list of books which will be read and studied long after the prize-cycle is over. They are also giving a leg up to smaller publishers, who are doing so much of the most interesting work in British and Irish fiction today."


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