Thursday, July 10, 2008

Warwick Prize for Writing

As Mark has already revealed, his alma mater the University of Warwick has this week announced a £50,000 prize to be awarded biennially to "an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language, in any genre or form on a theme that will change with every award".

Details of the inaugural theme can be found by visiting the director David Morley's blog, while the rules about eligibility and nominations are available at the Warwick Prize for Writing website.

Regular readers of this blog will know of my scepticism about book prizes. What makes this prize very promising - in addition to its cross-disciplinary brief - is that, as its name implies, it rewards writing. No strictures here about conformity to a genre; no novel/novella debates; no border controls. In fact, it is conceivable that work published online will be nominated. With this in mind, I'd really like to know what you think should be appear on the longlist. Unfortunately, plans for that new gazebo on my country estate remain on hold; as one of the five judges, I'm ineligible.


  1. Anonymous7:45 am

    S. Yizhar'a Khirbet Khizeh (Ibis Editions) is one of the best things I've read so far this year, but it was originally published in the 40s I believe -- does that rule it out?

    The work of Enrique Vila-Matas deserves as much praise as it can muster (as does Roberto Bolano's work -- but that seems to be getting a fair amount of attention anyway).

    I find Agamben and Jean Luc Nancy "complex" -- philosophers are allowed, aren't they?

    And I think Rosalind Belben deserves a bit more love too!

  2. Interesting. Though I'm equally sceptical about prizes, I only hope that online writing (i.e. published with or without an editorial stamp of approval) will also be considered eligible. It's time someone starts considering indie writers as real writers.

  3. Anonymous10:21 am

    Lee -- online writing *is* eligible.

    Steve wrote: "No strictures here... In fact, it is conceivable that work published online will be nominated."

  4. Yes, Mark, I read that but I'm not sure how 'published' will be defined. For example, here is a rule from the storySouth 2008 Million Writers Award for Fiction:

    'Only stories published in online literary journals, magazines, and e-zines that have an editorial process are eligible for nomination.'


  5. "I only hope that online writing (i.e. published with or without an editorial stamp of approval) will also be considered eligible"

    I have a lot of sympathy for the sentiment you're expressing, but (and it's one of those long, drawn-out buuuuuuuts) isn't there a limit? I mean, isn't there a limit to what can be read by the first readers of any given prize?

    Why not mix it up more? That is, post your own work as you see fit -- especially if you believe in it but find it hard to place that particular piece at another, edited site. Yet at the same time, also keep sending work out, whether to online or print publications. Indie by all means -- but indie with a degree of categorical imperative, or golden rule-ishness ... after all, would *we* want to sift through All of What Has Ever Been Typed if we were to establish our own prize? (I"m thinking of my own, by the way -- The Seoulish Won. Nice ring to it, no? And the prize -- one won coin -- won't break the bank of my well-intentioned but deeply underfunded philanthropic spirit.)


    After reading James Wood's review of The Lazarus Project I'm intrigued by this author. He clearly knows how to turn a beautiful for complexity...

    for you to consider Steve...his use of photos on his website above is worth a look. Sebaldesque

  7. Anonymous10:56 am

    As a member of Warwick staff, I'm able to nominate but unsure on what to nominate. Any good suggestions greatfully recieved!



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