The Porpoise by Mark Haddon has been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2019

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.


The judges on the shortlist

Guy Gunaratne on The Porpoise

There is storytelling of such primacy in Mark Haddon’s The Porpoise, that when I turned the last page, I was left completely elated. A gorgeous, enlivening experience. It is also one that insistently asks: how? How did all this add up to something so sublime? How, with all its subtle slips, and stunningly weird passages, could this strange, beautiful book feel so finely composed? It is disarmingly wild. And the story itself, in which the myth of Appolonius, remixed as Pericles by Shakespeare and George Wilkins, is again turned inside out, thrown backward and forward, and hurled against oceans (in an act of imaginative heroism by the author), invites us to understand something Haddon always has, which is that even stories as old as this one can remain relevant to our current moment. Especially if they are told with this much originality and conviction.


Click here to read more on the Goldsmiths website.