Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY wins The Goldsmiths Prize 2017


Congratulations to William Heinemann author Nicola Barker, who has won this year's Goldsmiths Prize for her eleventh novel, the darkly creative H(A)PPY.

Described as a 'post-post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland', H(A)PPY is a story which tells itself and then consumes itself. It's a place where language glows, where words buzz and sparkle and finally implode, as a perfect world unravels.

Running in association with The New Statesman, the £10,000 prize awards 'fiction at its most novel' with the shortlist being chosen by a judging panel made up of chair Naomi Wood, writers Kevin Barry and AL Kennedy, and writer, singer and songwriter Tracey Thorn. Joining Nicola on the shortlist were Penguin Random House UK authors Sara Baume (for A Line Made by Walking) and Will Self (for Phone).


On Nicola's win, chair Naomi Wood, Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London said: “Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY is a structural marvel to hold in the mind and in the hands. Line by line, colour by colour, this dystopic utopia is an ingenious closed loop of mass surveillance, technology, and personality-modifying psychopharmaceuticals. H(A)PPY is a fabulous demonstration of what the Goldsmiths Prize champions: innovation of form that only ever enriches the story. In Barker’s 3D-sculpture of a novel, H(A)PPY makes the case for the novel as a physical form and an object of art.”

Culture Editor of the New Statesman Tom Gatti added: “Nicola Barker is a writer who has broken the mould so many times that it’s almost beyond repair – and her novel H(A)PPY is an embodiment of the defiant and inventive spirit that the Goldsmiths Prize seeks to celebrate. Now more than ever we need fiction that offers a sense of resistance.”

Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She is the author of ten previous novels – including Darkmans and The Cauliflower® – and two short story collections. She has been twice longlisted and once shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, has won the IMPAC, the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Hawthornden Prizes, and was named one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Writers in 2003. 

This marks the second time a Penguin Random House author has won the prize, with Hamish Hamilton author Ali Smith winning in 2014 for How To Be Both.

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