Last night we had a wonderful evening at the Collyer Bristow Gallery in London for the awards ceremony of the inaugural London Magazine and Collyer Bristow Prize for Debut Fiction, as we met our nominated authors and announced our winner.

The Award was won by David Keenan of Faber & Faber for his superb novel This Is Memorial Device, which focuses on the post-punk scene of Scotland in the early 1980s. The book is comprised of a series of interviews with fictional characters about fictional groups, and in this anecdotal re-telling it captures the essence and independence not just of that particular era, but of local music scenes everywhere.

The London Magazine & Collyer Bristow Prize for Debut Fiction was set up in order to highlight and promote the current wave of innovative novels published in the UK, and this year’s winner is certainly a worthy recipient.

Matthew Scott, chair of the judges of the Collyer Bristow award for debut fiction, described This is Memorial Device by David Keenan, as “a novel that takes the reader back to a world that now feels both distinctly historical and yet still of the moment. It recreates the counter-culture of early 80s post-punk, when the group endeavours of youth culture weren’t private internet moments, but vital social forces that nevertheless threatened to slip into obsolescence — hence becoming obsessions. Not least in its uncomfortable sexual politics, it reminds the reader how far away that time can seem today, but it’s of the moment in being all about the essential importance of art (in all its forms) to life — and it is formally exciting, dazzlingly heteroglossic, and often very funny.” 

The full shortlist for this year’s prize:

This is Memorial Device – David Keenan (Faber & Faber)
Darker with the Lights On – David Hayden (Little Island Press) 
Safe Mode – Sam Riviere (Test Centre) 
Sympathy – Olivia Sudjic (Pushkin Press) 

The board of judges was chaired by our reviews editor Matthew Scott, who featured alongside Suzi Feay, Houman Barekat, and Steven Heffer on the panel.

On the night David Keenan gave a rousing speech after being awarded the prize of £1000,, and the evening also saw speeches from Matthew Scott, as well as from former minister for culture Lord Grey Gowrie.

See you all again next year!

For more information on This Is Memorial Device, visit Faber.

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