Rising star Honor Gavin makes book prize shortlist with ‘the Great Birmingham Novel’

Blog / Tom Chivers

A debut novel set across three generations of a Birmingham family has fought off competition from literary heavyweights Hilary Mantel and Martin Amis to appear on the shortlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2015. Dubbed ‘the Great Birmingham Novel’ by Gary Perry of Foyle’s, Midland tells the story of three young women across different generations […]

A debut novel set across three generations of a Birmingham family has fought off competition from literary heavyweights Hilary Mantel and Martin Amis to appear on the shortlist for the Gordon Burn Prize 2015.

Dubbed ‘the Great Birmingham Novel’ by Gary Perry of Foyle’s, Midland tells the story of three young women across different generations of the same family. The novel is set in Birmingham; from the bombsites of the 1940s to the construction sites of the 1960s and the school halls and decaying tower blocks of the 1980s. Often speaking in Birmingham dialect, Midland’s characters live in post-war suburbia, meet in the Central Library and the Odeon, and watch as a concrete ring road is built around the city.

Born in Birmingham in 1984, Honor Gavin is a writer, musician and academic. She is a founding member of the artistic collective When We Build Again and takes up a lecturing position at Sheffield University in September. Honor’s debut EP, Yes Manzoni, was released in 2013 by Number Line Records.

When I heard the news that Midland had been shortlisted I had a massive adrenalin rush and then I went to the pub! There’s a resistance in Midland to being a novel, so to be shortlisted for a prize that recognises cross-genre writing is really great.

Midland is published by Penned in the Margins, an independent publisher and arts producer based in East London. With a focus on poetry and experimental fiction, Midland is Penned in the Margins’ first full novel. Director Tom Chivers says

We are so thrilled that Honor’s astonishing, engrossing novel has been shortlisted for an award that shines a light on writing pushing at the limits of form and tradition.

The Gordon Burn Prize has been awarded annually since 2012 to reward fresh, fearless approaches to writing. The high-profile judging panel consists of celebrated author Roddy Doyle, actress Maxine Peake, journalist Suzanne Moore, artist Gavin Turk and author Doug Johnstone. 136 books were submitted for consideration by publishers and the full shortlist includes 2 novels and 3 non-fiction titles:

In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile by Dan Davies (Quercus)
Midland by Honor Gavin (Penned in the Margins)
Noontide Toll by Romesh Gunesekera (Granta)
Original Rockers by Richard King (Faber)
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia by Peter Pomerantsev (Faber)

The winner of the Gordon Burn Prize 2015 will receive a cheque for £5,000, plus the option of a three-month writing retreat in Gordon Burn’s cottage in the Scottish Borders. The winner will be awarded at a ceremony on 9th October at Durham Book Festival.

Midland is available to buy online from Penned in the Margins priced £9.99. Order here.

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