Finding a “Me” Prize

For the past year or so I’ve been trying to find a literary prize I can glom on to. A little corner of the book-ish world where we can read the same books at the same time and have conversations about content and style and merit with some healthy spats thrown in.

I was hoping the Man Booker would be The One but they don’t choose “me” books.  Some promise to be interesting but many look depressing for the sake of being depressing.  I will probably never read A Little Life or Eileen and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Show me the quirky, the groundbreaking, the little-known!  The Best Translated Book Award has introduced me to greatness like Signs Preceding the End of the World but the frantic pace (longlist to winner in five weeks) makes it impossible to keep up.  The Tournament of Books likewise points the way to great reads but without a head start I was ready to throw in the towel.

Then I found The Goldsmiths Prize.yc_um7ap

Established in 2013, its aim is to award fiction that “breaks the mold” and pushes the limits of the novel as a form.  Now this is something I can get behind!  I dare you to watch the judges discuss the shortlist and not be inspired to pick up at least one of the titles. Books that are “brave structurally”, that keep “sliding between varieties of language”, and where “the more you read it the more you realize it’s not [what you thought]”.

…ding ding ding!  It’s like this award was made for me.

So for this first time I’m going to read along with a shortlist and post reviews leading up to the prize.  There are six books and six weeks to read them (see? perfect!):

Martin John by Anakana Schofield
Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
Transit by Rachel Cusk

Unfortunately two of the six are yet to be published in the US (Transit and Solar Bones) so my effort may not be complete but I’m going to try.  Martin John is already on my e-reader and I’m on the hold list for two more, with hopes that my e-library will pick up the recently published The Lesser Bohemians sooner rather than later.

What catches your eye on the shortlist?  Do you have a favorite literary prize?