The Republic of Consciousness Prize was established by author Neil Griffiths with £2,000 of his own money to celebrate “small presses producing brilliant and brave literary fiction” in the UK and Ireland. Small presses being defined as having fewer than five full-time employees. The first Prize was awarded in 2017 to John Keene’s ‘Counternarratives’ (Fitzcarraldo Editions) and subsequent winners have been Eley Williams’ ‘Attrib. and Other Stories’ (Influx Press) in 2018, Will Eaves for ‘Murmur’ (CB Editions) in 2019 and last year Jean-Baptiste Del Amo took home the prize for ‘Animalia’, translated by Frank Wynne (Fitzcarraldo Editions).
The Prizemoney has changed this year with the publisher of all longlisted titles receiving £1,000, at total of £10,000. A further £10,000 will be split between the shortlisted titles, which will be announced in late March.
Earlier this week the longlist for the 2021 Prize was announced. Here are those books (listed alphabetically by publisher as the Prize has chosen to do):
•A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti, tr. Fionn Petch (Charco Press)
•The Appointment by Katharina Volckmer (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
•Mordew by Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press)
•Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths (Henningham Family Press)
•Unknown Language by Huw Lemmey and Hildegard von Bingen (Ignota Books)
•Lote by Shola von Reinhold (Jacaranda Books)
•The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree Press)
•Men and Apparitions by Lynne Tillman (Peninsula Press)
•Alindarka’s Children by Alhierd Bacharevic, tr. Jim Dingley & Petra Reid (Scotland Street Press)
•A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)
I have read three of the titles, only giving my thoughts on one here (‘Mr. Beethoven’ by Paul Griffiths), however I will write up something about the other two in the coming weeks and will also get to a few more that sit on my shelves, hopefully before announcement of the shortlist. Links to my reviews will be updated on the list here.
This year’s judges are:
Guy Gunaratne, his first novel ‘Our Mad and Furious City’ winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Authors Club Best First Novel Award in 2019, also longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize.
Eley Williams, winner of this Prize and the James Tait Black Prize in 2018 for ‘Attrib. and Other Stories’ (Influx Press).
John Mitchinson, co-founder of Unbound the book crowdfunding platform.
Prizemoney is largely donated from two sources: The University of East Anglia, through the UEA Publishing Project; and The Granta Trust, with the remainder of the prizemoney being raised through donations and through the Republic of Consciousness small press book club. I have been a member of their book club for a little while and as part of your membership you can choose to receive a fresh small press title each month, sometimes giving you a sneak preview as to the following year’s longlist.
If you would like to join their book club visit their website here for more details, I recommend it, a new book a month (even if mail to Australia is slow), and the knowledge that you are supporting a prize for small presses, those who push the boundaries and publish “brave literary fiction”.