Hosted at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation by the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing, this annual event honours the memory of writer Caroline Chisholm, who was a valued member of the CNW community. Caroline studied for both a Creative Writing MA and a PhD at the centre, developing the early drafts of Swimming Pool Hill, which was longlisted for the Mslexia first novel award and won the Bridport Prize’s inaugural Peggy Chapman-Andrews first novel award in 2014.
The event features a reading from the best dissertation submitted by an MA student at the Centre this year, alongside a reading by a writer whose fiction is close in spirit to Caroline’s own novels in progress and her work at Greenpeace – last year, Rachel Seiffert read; the previous year, it was Hisham Matar.
In 2018, it’s Ross Raisin, the multi-award-winning West Yorkshire-born author of three novels: God’s Own Country (2008), Waterline (2011) and, most recently, A Natural (2017). He has also written short stories for Granta, Prospect, The Sunday Times, Esquire, BBC Radios Three and Four, among others, and has contributed to anthologies including Salt Publishing’s Nicholas Royle-edited Best British Short Stories 2013.
Ross has been the recipient of several awards, including a Betty Trask Award and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and he has been shortlisted for (deep breath) the Guardian First Book Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2013 he was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, so maybe we should take heed and devour his book from earlier this year on the practice of fiction writing – Read This if you Want to be a Great Writer. Having studied first English at King’s College, London, then a Masters at Goldsmith’s, University of London, he now teaches on the latter’s Creative Writing programme. Ross has also taught on the UEA/Guardian Masterclasses programme and has been a writer-in-residence for the education charity First Story.
His debut novel was acquired by Viking after a hotly contested auction involving most of London’s major publishers and follows the descent into madness of a lonely young Yorkshire farmer after his unlikely relationship with the daughter of a metropolitan couple turns sour. His second novel, published by Jonathan Cape, tells the story of a Glaswegian shipbuilder made first redundant, then widowed after his wife contracts a lung disease from the poisons on his clothes, then finally homeless when he leaves behind the awkward sympathy of his family and friends and moves to London. Ross’s latest novel (also on Jonathan Cape) offers, says The Guardian, a “brave portrait of a gay footballer” and looks at life on and off the pitch: the pressure, the loneliness, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle with conforming to the person that everybody expects you to be.
Expect extracts of some or all of these – and a moving and varied evening.