The Green Carnation Prize Shortlist 2013…

As the press release (which I wrote) states, the shortlist for the Green Carnation Prize has now been announced and “With subjects from the abolition of death in Civil War 1836 to dysfunctional families in modern America; from marital breakdowns to crime and conspiracy over continents; from transvestites in London to tolerance in modern times, it seems that this year’s Green Carnation Prize shortlist has shown once again just what diverse list of titles the prize can produce.” Which I think I can agree with even though, as yet I haven’t read all the short list (I am still working on the longlist, and the blinking ‘Luminaries’ when I can) but I will be reading them all. The six titles are…

Doesn’t my lounge look lovely in this shot?

  • Gob’s Grief – Chris Adrian (Granta Books)
  • Black Bread White Beer – Niven Govinden (The Friday Project)
  • May We Be Forgiven – A. M. Homes (Granta)
  • The Kills – Richard House (Picador)
  • Fanny & Stella – Neil McKenna (Faber and Faber)
  • Far From The Tree – Andrew Solomon (Chatto & Windus)

Congratulations to all of them, I did rather large cheers for Neil McKenna (review coming soon) and Niven Govinden (review here) and am really interested in reading the three that I still haven’t read. Yes, I know I am missing one but will be talking about it in due course as it’s a book that is so good it actually started to annoy me. You see this year it has been really interesting for me as I haven’t judged the books or read all the submitted novels  so I can be rather impartial, which is quite exciting. I get to watch the judges judging and clap or tear out my hair with their decisions; mind you I have done that in past years when I was part of the panel.

You see I trust the judges and their discussions and have been chatting with them about the list since they informed me of it last week (aren’t I good at keeping secrets) and so when I did an initial ‘oh no’ for both ‘Maggie and Me’ by Damian Barr (which I loved and beyond) and ‘Almost English’ by Charlotte Mendelson (which recently charmed the reading glasses off me), instead of getting cross (which nearly happened) I just had to think ‘wow this must be a bloody brilliant shortlist’ which of course makes me very excited about the reading I have ahead of me. Though I will also admit the size (and font size too) of ‘Far From The Tree’ scares me somewhat. I am looking forward to the surprise of finding out the winner in two weeks.

It is interesting though as after the initial ‘who is and who isn’t on the list’ discussion dies down the same question rears its head. ‘Why do we need a prize like this?’ It is one I will be answering in the Guardian tomorrow but until then I would be interested in hearing both what you think of the Green Carnation Prize shortlist this year and do you think we need a prize that celebrates LGBT writing?


Filed under The Green Carnation Prize

18 responses to “The Green Carnation Prize Shortlist 2013…

  1. Far from the Tree *is* dauntingly long, but it’s also very good. At least the half of it that I managed to read before I had to return it to the library! The chapters stand alone quite well though, so you can easily pick and choose amongst them.

    • It is mammoth. I don’t think I will get to it before the winner is announced a week tomorrow but I will dip into some of the chapters over the next few weeks for sure. Lots of people really rate it, your good self now included.

  2. The only one currently available at my library is Far from the Tree, which I just may put on reserve.

  3. I have no idea what The Green Carnation prize is but the books on the shortlist sound very interesting. I have had my eye on The Kills ever since it made the Man Booker longlist, and it being featured on another prize list can only mean good things.

    I am so looking forward to your thoughts on that one.

    And why is The Luminaries “blinking”? Is the book slow, not going well?

    • Hahaha yes ‘blinking’ is my polite way of saying something much ruder. I am trying to get to grips with it but it is a slow, slow pace.

      As for the Green Carnation prize it is a prize to celebrate LGBT writing! I think The Kills might be the book that I will try next from the list.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised to see Far from the Tree when you posted about the Longlist, because I didn’t realize the Green Carnation could include non-fiction. I’m now thrilled to see it’s made the Shortlist. I haven’t read it yet, but his earlier book, The Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Depression, is one of my favorites. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but have long struggled with depression, and found his book when it was brand new, on display at Barnes & Noble, on an evening when I felt very down and had gone to B&N searching for comfort. I saw Solomon’s book and took it as a sign, and bought it even though it was in hardcover. It went on to win the National Book Award. 🙂

    Yes, Far from the Tree is a doorstop, and I haven’t read it yet, but anything by Solomon is well worth reading — he has a sharp, intelligent, wide-ranging mind, but also a huge amount of compassion for others. Before tackling the book, you can start small, with this blog from The New Yorker site:
    And as biblioglobal said above, the chapters are separate topics — similar to the format of The Noonday Demon — so you can start with the ones that sound most interesting or personally relevant.

    Thank you for your blog and podcasts! Cheers!

    • Non fiction, poetry, essays, we welcome them all as long as they have a publisher, self published books would make us have too many entries and the judges couldn’t read them all.

      From your thoughts on Solomon’s writing it sounds like Far From The Tree is as brilliant as the judges are saying. I will read it in chunks though I think.

      Thank you for reading and listening, is always lovely to hear from you.

  5. Hello Simon – I’ve only just stumbled across your blog but am already immensely enjoying what I’ve seen so far. Thanks for highlighting this shortlist – I’ll be especially interested to see what you have to say about Fanny & Stella in due course, which is on my wishlist. (It gives the impression of being an absolutely brilliant slice of social history.) Very much looking forward to following you from now on.

    • As a co-founder I do have a vested interest, though actually if I hadn’t founded it I would still be following it avidly. My review of Fanny and Stella will be up within the next week or two, people need to read that book.

  6. A great list, I added 5 to my amazon wishlist (I tried Holmes once and have never fancied trying again), but I’m most interested in Franny and Stella

  7. Pingback: LGBT Literature Latest… | Savidge Reads

  8. Great blog, Simon:)Always mystifies me why the need for list/prize of books by lgbt authors isnt self-evident. I watched the growth of gay Mens press(80s)and then there were ONLY “niche” publishers of lgbt content fiction and other stuff, with occasional exception, eg Patrick White and Edmund White. Despite favourable law changes (in the Uk at least), social attitudes are slower to change and therefore 2 thing will happen:1. there will STILL be a “need for a “niche” lgbt content or lgbtyidentified authors(if they so choose to be identified!) because of this.2. there may be abreactions, especially from “mainstream” souces, but also , sadly from lgbt people themselves who, for various complex psychological reasons(eg internalised homophobia, marketting reasons for authors)will say there is no need for such a “niche”. i say there decidedly IS a need and good for u for setting up the Green carnation prize; long may it prosper!ps i am yours(from a literary discussion point of view!P) for a vaniila slice. take care, steve(lgbt Book group)

    • Ha, thank you Steve, nice to see you pop by here! I think its sad that we don’t still have the GMP to be honest, I wonder if Gays the Word would ever start doing their own imprint of books one day?

      I think some of the comments on the Guardian showed that socially it still isn’t as acceptable as it should be and that needs to change and someone reading one of these books might just be one person changed for the better. Or is that too melodramatic?

      • Hi Simon, nice to see YOU here too:) Not at all melodramatic lol;books change quite a lot of people(for the better)and yes they just might be educated; and i think one still looks hard for lgbt related relationships/storylines, apart from cameos, in mainstream fiction; hence there is still a need for it, so that u can see urself reflected back in the text; that is a normal, human need! So, anyone who claims “seperatism” etc is coming from a skewed biassed angle poltically and from a literary history point of view; there always was AND STILL IS a dearth of positve lgbt representation in the novel:)see u at book group if u going!take care, Steve

      • Of course I’m coming… It’s my choice!

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