On Thursday of last week I travelled to London to attend a party at Foyles bookshop on the Charing Cross Road. The event was to culminate in the announcement of the winner of this year’s Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses. Long time readers will know that I am a particular fan of this prize and its ethos. I was honoured to serve as a judge last year.
This year I observed from a distance, as reader and advocate. My coverage of the longlist and shortlist is best summarised here. My thanks again to the publishers who provided me with books or a guest post. I urge you to read any or all of these fine literary works.
For the Winners’ Event I travelled to London by bus which takes twice as long as by train but costs £13 return as opposed to £56. As well as loss of comfort and time, bus travel also precludes reading as this makes me ill. I therefore downloaded podcasts to keep me entertained and these proved excellent preparation for the event.
- Republic of Consciousness Podcast: the judges discuss the shortlist here
- London Review Bookshop Podcast: the shortlisted authors read from their books here
The weather was glorious for the two days I was in the capital (I stayed over in my daughter’s student house) so on arrival I was able to walk from Victoria to the venue. I then enjoyed time in a bookshop which is always a pleasure.
The party was just getting started as I moved to the top floor space. There was a fine turnout of authors, publishers, writers and readers. I had some lovely conversations – thank you to those who came to say hello and to those who welcomed me when I joined their circles.
The founder and one of the organisers of the prize, Neil Griffiths, then gave a speech that I felt encapsulated its ethos – celebration rather than competition. He stated that he will be stepping back from the organisation next year which a few people commented on with concern. The RofC is a valued and increasingly respected voice in the world of literary fiction.
Neil introduced each of the books on the shortlist before announcing the winner.
Actually, there were two winners because two of the books shortlisted could not be denied the title: Murmur by Will Eaves, published by CB Editions; and Lucia by Alex Pheby, published by Galley Beggar Press.
Each of these winners gave a short speech of appreciation.
I keep coming back to this guest post provided by Charles Boyle last year in which he wrote:
“Does there have to be a winner? Boringly, yes. It’s how the world tick-tocks. But that doesn’t matter, because the real point of the Republic of Consciousness Prize is to celebrate a movement and a community.”
It was a pleasure and a privilege to once again spend an evening in the company of this esteemed – if not widely enough recognised and generously rewarded – literary community.
If purchasing their books on line do please consider buying direct from small publishers as this is the best way to support their ongoing work.
Gig Review: The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses – Winner 2017 (write-up of the 2018 event)
Gig Review: The Republic of Consciousness Prize Winner(s) Event (write-up of the 2017 event – the prize’s inaugural year)