December 4, 2015

Fitzcarraldo Editions announces book-length essay prize



Fitzcarraldo Editions was founded in 2014 by White Review editor Jacques Testard

Fitzcarraldo Editions launched last year with the UK publication of Zone by Mathias Énardthis year’s recipient of France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt prize. Since then, the publisher’s catalog has grown to include works from other literary heavyweights such as Alejandro Zambra (My Documents), Eula Biss (On Immunity), and Simon Critchley (Memory Theatre, Notes on Suicide).

Next year, they’ll publish Second-Hand Time by this year’s Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexeivich, as well as a UK edition of John Keene‘s Counternarratives. 

Suffice to say any writer would be in good company at Fitzcarraldo. Now, with the launch of the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, unpublished writers in Great Britain and Ireland will be given that opportunity.

Of the prize, Fitzcarraldo states:

The judges will be looking for proposals for essays that explore and expand the possibilities of the essay form, with no restrictions on theme or subject matter. In addition to the £3,000 prize, which will be in the form of an advance against publication with Fitzcarraldo Editions, the winner will have the opportunity to spend up to three months in residency at the Mahler and LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy, during the summer of 2016, to work on their book. The winner will then be published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017.

Entries will be considered by an editorial committee of five, including writer Ali Smith (How to be Both), editor Joanna Biggs (London Review of Books), critic Brian Dillon (The Great Explosion), editor Paul Keegan (Penguin Classics, Faber Poetry), and Fitzcarraldo publisher Jacques Testard. The prize is made possible by a grant from the Arts Council.

Entry rules stipulate that authors who have previously published works of non-fiction are not eligible for entry, nor are writers who have previously held contracts with other publishers. Additionally, it is the writers themselves that must propose the work—no agents allowed.

Fitzcarraldo Editions will be accepting submissions from January 1, 2016 to March 15, 2016. The publisher will announce the winner in May of 2016, the winning essay will be published in 2017.


Chad Felix is the Manager of Direct Sales and Library Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.