Writers and publishers from across the UK and beyond gathered on Wednesday 11th January for the short-list announcement of the highly anticipated Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses. Creator Neil Griffiths, an award-winning novelist, aims to celebrate people collaborating in what he sees as a publishing revolution. The first of its kind, this prize represents a fantastic opportunity to reward the production of unique and innovative literature, crediting the publishers as well as the authors.
Long-listed hopefuls and their friends gathered in the stunning art deco surroundings of Waterstones Piccadilly in London’s West End. Susan Curtis-Kojakovic of Istros Books, long-listed for Quiet Flows the Una by Faruk Šehić, observed: ‘Small presses usually have a limited look-in on the prize scene, especially translations, so this is a welcome new development’. Meike Ziervogel of Peirene Press, long-listed for The Empress and the Cake by Linda Stift, agreed. ‘This is a great initiative that finally acknowledges the very careful choices made by small presses to publish books based solely on merit’.
Acclaimed writer David Collard introduced the event, declaring that this is the best literary long-list he has ever seen. He also praised the way the prize recognises small presses for publishing ‘beautiful books enriching our lives and challenging what is possible in literature’.
Before announcing the short-list, Neil Griffiths expressed how proud he is to be standing up for small publishers, congratulating those on the long-list which in itself is an outstanding achievement. He believes that such inclusion will help create momentum and increase interest in all the books.
Eight books in total have made the short-list. Following the announcement, Charles Boyle from CB Editions, whose book Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams has got through, observed that over the past twelve years, the range of small press books and authors has grown immensely. ‘It is fantastic to have that trend confirmed in the emergence of this prize.’
Eloise Millar of Galley Beggar Press said she was absolutely delighted that their entry, Forbidden Line by Paul Stanbridge, has also made the short-list, heaping praise on its author. ‘It can be very challenging for small presses to get publicity on a national level. Being short-listed therefore represents huge validation. This book to me is a joyous love letter to fiction.’
The winner will be announced on 9th March 2017.
Reporting and pictures by Becky Danks