Republic of Consciousness Prize: Longlist Announced
In the midst of prestigious and historic literary prizes, and navigating the world of small literary presses, the Republic of Consciousness Prize endeavours to honour smaller publishing houses and their works. Founded by author Neil Griffiths in 2017, the prize sets forth to celebrate the vast and rich examples of fiction published by publishers with no more than five employees. Not only this, but a significant portion of the funds raised for the prize come through its very own book club subscriptions. The judges for the 2021 prize are Guy Gunaratne (author of Our Mad and Furious City), John Mitchinson (writer, former publisher, and podcaster), and Eley Williams (author of The Liar's Dictionary and previous Republic of Consciousness winner.
A Look into the Longlist
Luis Sagasti, A Musical Offering. This fictional novel was originally published in Argentina in 2017. Now, the story has been translated into English by Fionn Petch and has been published by Charco Press. The novel is a harmonic tapestry of interwoven stories about the history of music.
Katharina Volckmer, The Appointment. This debut was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions and has already seen an onslaught of praise. The work of fiction uses a darkly funny voice to explore themes of identity, sexuality and culture, as well as the inescapable nature of shame.
Alex Pheby, Mordew. Published by Galley Beggar Press, this book marks the first in a planned fantasy trilogy following a heroic underdog protagonist. As fantasy series are currently hot at the top of reader trends lists, this trilogy is bound for success.
Paul Griffiths, Mr Beethoven. This work of inventive historical fiction was published by Henningham Family Press. It describes an imagined world wherein Beethoven had lived a few years longer in America, and goes on to create women he might have met and come to depend upon.
Huw Lemmey and Hildegard von Bingen, Unknown Language. The newest publication from Ignota Books was written by Lemmey and von Bingen as a duo, and also includes an introductory story by Bhanu Kapil and an afterword by Alice Spawls. It is described simply as “a mutant fiction of speculative mysticism.”
Shola von Reinhold, Lote. Published by Jacaranda Books, Lote is a literary novel following the narrator’s fixation with the Scottish modernist poet, Hermia Druitt. The novel explores the diversity in aesthetics and beauty, and has been called “groundbreaking” by its publisher.
Monique Roffey, The Mermaid of Black Conch. This novel was awarded the ‘winner’ title by many popular prizes, such as the Costa Book Awards and the Costa Novel Award. Published by Peepal Tree Press, this vibrant novel takes place on an imaginary Caribbean island and pairs mythical stories with real life experience.
Lynne Tillman, Men and Apparitions. Peninsula Press is a modern publisher founded in 2018, and their publications reflect their era. This novel by Tillman is another of their social commentaries, following an academic cultural anthropologist discovering the contemporary world and his place within it.
Alhierd Bacharevič, Alindarka’s Children. Originally published in 2014, the Belarusian author’s text has now been translated by Jim Dingley and Petra Reid, and published by Scotland Street Press. The novel’s content reflects this linguistic theme, depicting a camp in which children are taught to forget their mother tongue Belarusian and to speak Russian instead.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa, A Ghost in the Throat. This novel by an Irish poet and essayist was published by Tramp Press. The bestselling novel is a haunting Irish ghost story, which adds to her collection of critically acclaimed books deeply detailing birth, death and desire.
2021 brings the fifth longlist of the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and it is an anniversary surely worth celebrating. Pulling fresh, compelling fiction to the fore is a testament to the prize's undoubtedly future success. Every year, we are not only bestowed with an increasingly diverse and intriguing longlist, but alongside that, the prize also recognizes small, independent publishing houses and their attentive eye for spotting great potential.
As you can see, the competition will be tight, with each enthralling synopsis sure to suit many tastes. However, there can only be one who takes home the cake. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled, as the winner will be announced in March, still giving you plenty of time to delve into this enticing longlist and their unique, enchanting worlds.