Books

Lucy Ellmann's 'massive achievement of a novel' wins $16K Goldsmiths Prize

Ducks, Newburyport, which is 1,000 pages and is comprised mostly of one sentence, won the £10,000 prize, which goes to a novel that breaks the mould.
Lucy Ellmann is an American-born British novelist based in Scotland. (Caroline Forbes, Biblioasis)

Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport, a 1,000-page book that is comprised mostly of one sentence, won the £10,000 ($16,891 Cdn) Goldsmiths Prize, which is given to a novel that breaks the form in daring and creative ways.

"Ducks, Newburyport is that rare thing: a book which, not long after its publication, one can unhesitatingly call a masterpiece," said Erica Wagner, chair of the judges, in a press release.

The novel follows the stream of consciousness inner-monologue of an unnamed Ohio housewife living in Donald Trump's America. While making pies, the narrator ruminates on why her daughter won't speak to her, her fears over climate change and what it means to live in politically turbulent times.

In her acceptance speech, Ellmann said, "[ £10,000 ] is a lot of money for one sentence and it may make me write a few more."

"I'm just stunned to receive this. I haven't had a prize in decades, and I thought this was one I'd love to get," she added in a video for the Goldsmiths Prize posted to Twitter.

Lucy Ellmann's Booker-nominated Ducks, Newburyport, captures our fractious, fractured age through the eyes of a likeable, pie-baking housewife in Ohio in an epic running one thousand pages long in one, single sentence. 53:59

The book was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize earlier this year, but lost to co-winners The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.

Ellmann, who lives in Scotland, is published by Windsor, Ont.-based indie publisher Biblioasis.

Ellmann spoke about capturing a zeitgeist of conflicts — from the personal to the international — in an interview with CBC Radio's Ideas.

Author Lucy Ellmann reading from her critically-acclaimed novel Ducks, Newburyport — an excerpt about the narrator's stream of consciousness turning into a torrent. 1:19

The other 2019 Goldsmiths Prize finalists were Slip of a Fish by Amy Arnold, The Porpoise by Mark Haddon, The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy, Good Day? by Vesna Main and We Are Made of Diamond Stuff by Isabel Waidner.

The 2018 Goldsmiths Prize winner was Robin Robertson for The Long Take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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