The second annual winner of the £5,000 Gordon Burn Prize, named in memory of the celebrated Newcastle-born writer, is Paul Kingsnorth.
His first novel, The Wake, was chosen from a shortlist of six and it was his name in lights tonight at a Durham Book Festival event at Durham Town Hall.
The Wake is a historical novel set in the years after the Norman invasion of 1066 when underground resistance swept across the country.
The book, also longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction, is published by Unbound, a crowdsource funding platform.
Paul Kingsnorth was born in 1972 in Worcester. He is also the author of two non-fiction books and a collection of poetry.
Benjamin Myers, a judge and winner of last year’s inaugural Gordon Burn Prize, said: “Paul Kingsnorth creates his own world – that of an old England that is both familiar yet utterly alien – and pulls you in to bear witness to our own bloody history first hand.
“Poetry, landscape, mythology and language are shot through with fleeting flashes of violence on which modern society is founded.
“Months after first reading it part of me is still within this novel, and I truly believe future generations will regard The Wake as a classic.”
The Gordon Burn Prize is run in partnership by New Writing North, Faber & Faber and the Gordon Burn Trust.
As well as the cheque, the winner gets the chance to undertake a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire.
Gordon Burn, who died in 2009, was admired for fiction and non-fiction, the latter including books about serial killers Peter Sutcliffe and Fred and Rosemary West.
According to the Gordon Burn Trust, the prize was set up “to celebrate, amongst many things, risk-takers and people, like Gordon, who are prepared to stare horror in the face”.
Durham Book Festival runs until October 20 with a host of readings and events taking place this weekend.