The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019

This year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction didn’t longlist a single small press. Can it be that no small press published a novel good enough to make their top thirteen?

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses 2019 celebrates small presses, representing the best of inclusive and innovative fiction.

Dive into exclusive extracts of the thirteen longlisted works, including a Turing-inspired novel, high-profile names such as Gabriel Josipovici and Daša Drndić, exciting debuts about a magic-realist 1970s communist Romania, and the first Latvian novel you've ever read.

About the author

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses rewards the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees, yearly. The program is newly sponsored this year by the University of East Anglia and The Times Literary Supplement, with support from Arts Council England.

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Why We Like It

  • The prize celebrates small presses.
  • "Inclusive and intriguing" longlist - The Bookseller
  • “Hard-core literary fiction, and gorgeous prose” - TLS
  • There are longlisted novels in English, Portuguese, Croatian, French, and Latvian

The Republic of Consciousness

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses rewards the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than 5 full-time employees, yearly. The program is newly sponsored this year by the University of East Anglia and The Times Literary Supplement, with support from Arts Council England.

The effort was created by author Neil Griffiths in 2016 to honour “brave and bold literary fiction” produced by independent houses from the UK and Ireland, and in addition to splitting prize money between writers and their publishers, it also works to be publisher-friendly by “charging no entry fees, paying for travel to prize events and splitting our prize money (£12,500) between author and publisher.”

The Longlist - (see The Times Literary Supplement for full details)

The Cemetery in Barnes by Gabriel Josipovici (Carcanet)

Gabriel Josipovici has been writing short, modernist-inflected novels for a long time. This beautifully patterned work, both playful and serious, reminds us that he is one of our great writers. To be as elegant and clever as this without ever being cold is a rare skill.

Murmur by Will Eaves (CB Editions)

Along with Galley Beggar Press, Charles Boyle’s CB Editions is now the only press to have appeared on all three Republic of Consciousness longlists. Murmur is a marvel. Will Eaves has conceived an avatar for Alan Turing and then conjured up his dream world to muse on what versions of ourselves we are building in the twenty-first century – musical, stimulating and moving.

Resistance by Julián Fuks, translated by Daniel Hahn (Charco Press)

Resistance, which has already won major prizes in Brazil, Portugal and Germany, marks the English-language debut of a writer who seems immediately important. Born in Brazil to Argentine parents, Julián Fuks engages with his own family history to write about the Argentine military dictatorship of the 1970s. It has been rendered into hypnotic English prose by the ever-reliable Daniel Hahn.

Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn (Fairlight Books)

This time last year, Fairlight Books announced its arrival on the small press scene with the beautifully designed Fairlight Moderns. Its first submission is Bottled Goods: a wholly successful attempt at creating novel(la)-length flash fiction. An assured debut which is part-absurdist, part-thriller, part-social realism. If you’re looking for intrigue, psychological depth and the darkly comic in a book that can be read in one hour, this is for you.

Lucia by Alex Pheby (Galley Beggar Press)

In his review for the Guardian, Ian Sansom wrote “Pheby is a writer possessed of unusual – indeed, extraordinary – powers”. Lucia Joyce, the daughter of James, is not a new subject for fiction. What is new here, and startlingly so, is how Pheby decides to tells her story. Psychological cruelty has rarely been rendered by such a cool hand. In this novel nothing is real; everything is real. Biographical fiction at its most honest.

Dedalus by Chris McCabe (Henningham Family Press) 

Not June 16, 1904, but the day after. Much has happened in the last twenty-four hours, as we know. Yes, a sequel to Ulysses, and Chris McCabe earns the right to such hubris. A little easier, much shorter, but there are flashes of great beauty. And how delightful it is to take up with Dedalus and Bloom again.

Doppelgänger by Daša Drndić, translated by Celia Hawkesworth and S. D. Curtis (Istros)

When Daša Drndić died at the age of seventy-one in June last year, we lost a writer of astounding force and fierce detail. In an interview published in the Paris Review in 2017, she said that “art should shock, hurt, offend, intrigue, be a merciless critic of the merciless times”; Doppelgänger is two works – one short, one long – which live up to this brief, while also being unashamedly strange and comic.

Now, Now, Louison by Jean Frémon, translated by Cole Swensen (Les Fugitives)

An immersive and profoundly satisfying engagement with the artist Louise Bourgeois. Gorgeously translated, it is full of illuminating observations on a remarkable life and tremendous body of work, from the striking opening to the final poignant evocation of gathering darkness.

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford (New Island Books)

Sue Rainsford achieves something quite uncanny: believability. Her characters are not human (as “normally conceived”) but human-like creatures who live on the edge of a village and tend to the sick and dying by burying them in the ground. They yearn for real human experience, which, as in other such stories, may cost them the loss of their powers. But they are so believable that you might be forgiven for looking for them yourself. This book is deeply evocative of what it might be like to find true healing in nature, if not in ourselves.

Kitch by Anthony Joseph (Peepal Tree Press)

The second novel by the poet, academic, musician and Renaissance man Anthony Joseph takes the life of Lord Kitchener, the calypso singer who wrote “London is the Place for me”, and turns it into a richly textured first-person narrative. This is voice-driven writing which explores how to tell a life with candour and verve.

Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena, translated by Margita Gailitis (Peirene Press)

This is classic Peirene Press: a short, intense novel that seems to contain more than is possible in 190-odd pages. Set in the 1970s and 80s in the Soviet-controlled Baltics, and telling the story of three generations of women, Soviet Milk may be the first Latvian novel you’ve read; we hope there is more to come.

Hang Him When He Is Not There by Nicholas John Turner (Splice)

Originally published in Australia in January 2016, and largely overlooked at the time, this debut seems – at first glance – to be made up of free-standing short stories. On reading, and re-reading, however, the links and reflections begin to become apparent. Those gathering certainties are then complicated again . . . . This is the novel as hall of mirrors, and it rewards you for following it to the end.

Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine (The Stinging Fly Press)

The Stinging Fly Press is making a habit of publishing bold, distinctive debut short-story collections: from Colin Barrett’s Young Skins to Claire-Louise Bennett’s Pond. Sweet Home is a fine addition. Erskine has a generous eye and ear, and an excellent sense of place; she wants us to witness the complexities of experience in a world of poverty, isolation and sadness.

How it works 

The extracts will be delivered as 6 instalments (or staves), [one every day] with each stave containing extracts from at least two novels. The instalments are delivered to your Pigeonhole bookshelf on your IOS or Android app, plus you can read on our web reader. You will receive an email letting you know when each stave is available.

We believe that shared reading leads to new ideas and connections. That’s why we have a dynamic commenting system which allows in-text discussion between our readers. Post a comment and all your fellow readers will be able to respond. You can also choose to receive notifications (customise them here) when someone responds to your comment, or, additionally, whenever a comment is left in the book.

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