Writers have long been battling one another to craft the perfect sentence, to cultivate each word so carefully that that one grammatical moment encapsulates a world. Leo Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, James Joyce - all masters of the huge sentence. But a single, uninterrupted sentence just won a major literary prize - so all bets are off now, I guess.
Mike McCormack was recently awarded the Goldsmith's Prize in Literature, the third Irish writer in history to do so, for his novel Solar Bones. The Goldsmiths Prize, worth 10,000 euros, is awarded to "fiction that breaks the mould"; a novel crafted from one, beautiful, unbroken sentence certainly does that.
Solar Bones follows middle-aged engineer Marcus Conway, returned for one day from the dead on November 2 - All Soul's Day, an annual commemoration for the departed. In a review for The Guardian published earlier this year, Ian Sansom notes, "The book is a hymn to modern small-town life...as well as an indictment of human greed and stupidity, and how places and cultures respond to the circumstances beyond their control and yet of their own making." Considering the world that we woke up in Wednesday morning, there is perhaps no better time to read such a work.
Though the other works shortlisted for this year's Goldsmiths Prize, which was founded in 2013, are not as distinct departures from the traditional novel as Solar Bones, they're still worth exploring if you're in the market for groundbreaking fiction.
Transit by Rachel Cusk, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimer McBride, Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, and Martin John by Anakana Schofield are all currently available from Amazon and your very friendly local, independent booksellers. Practice some self-care this week and go read at least one of them.
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, $18.17, Amazon
Images: Alvaro Serrano/Unsplash