Mike McCormack, who won the Novel of the Year prize at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards on Wednesday night for his groundbreaking book Solar Bones, has castigated Britain as `having one of the most conservative literary cultures in the world.'
Written in one single sentence, Solar Bones takes place on All Souls’ Day in Louisburgh, Co Mayo and is told largely through the recollections of Marcus Conway, a middle-aged civil servant.
McCormack recently won the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for Fiction for the novel. However the Mayo novelist was not eligible for the Man Booker long-list earlier this year because his publisher, Tramp Press, is an independent Irish imprint.
"I knew immediately it had found its proper home. I’ve sat with editors in big English publishing houses, and American publishing houses," McCormack told The Spectator magazine in the UK.
"What I didn’t know, when I was doing that, is the degree to which Irish writers find themselves explaining themselves to British and American editors. Irish writers are selling their books into what is one of the most conservative literary cultures in the world, into Britain."
However, McCormack said he is entirely happy with modest publishing house Tramp Press, who will be busy meeting orders in the coming days. "Tramp Press were so lucid, clear, courageous and enthusiastic about the book."
He set Solar Bones in County Mayo, around the town of Louisburgh. "I always think my work is speculative and conjectural, and therefore it has to have some starting point, and that starting point is that small area I know very well.
"Once I have that area under my feet, once I’m sure and certain of that area, I have no problem writing about ghosts, or about spaceships, aliens, robots - anything becomes possible. It’s familiar in the sense of knowledge, and of certainty.
Reiterating his point about a conservative literary culture in the UK, McCormack also noted that "when prize judges so often go for something so off-the-rack, it’s important to have a space for more angular and experimental writing to be recognised, and it’s edifying to be part of that."