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Cuddy: Winner of the 2023 Goldsmiths Prize

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And all the while at the centre sits Durham Cathedral and the lives of those who live and work around this place of pilgrimage – their dreams, desires, connections and communities.Then after his death his body was taken from Lindisfarne all the way to Durham and the cathedral was built to keep him. Cuthbert was first buried on Lindisfarne, an island off the Northumbrian coast and scene of the first Viking raid on England. As the book moves from 687 to 2019 in centuries-long leaps, there are less obvious themes which run throughout. The triumphant new novel from the Walter Scott Prize-winning author of The Gallows Pole and The Offing. Fame” would have been anathema to him as he lived a very simple, austere life and died alone on a rock in the North Sea.

The symbiosis of poetry and story, of knowledge and deep love, marks out Cuddy as a singular and significant achievement. I began with The Gallows Pole when I was part of the panel that longlisted the book for The Republic of Consciousness prize in 2018.The five books and a prologue span just over a thousand years and drop us into vignettes from the dead saint’s life and legacy. The cathedral is a wonder … in its elegance and grotesquery, its shimmering and its solidity, Myers captures it accurately. Which sounds strange when you realise that the book starts on a small island near Lindisfarne with Cuthbert’s death (AD687). This is always near impossible to pull off and, while I admire the ambition, I feel like it could have been pared back a little. This book is a challenge no doubt, and demands perseverance from its readers, not all of whom will want to take on the trouble of that task.

The final part of the novel, Daft Lad, brings us at last to the present, or rather the very recent past of 2019.A controversial combination of biography and novel, Richard (2010) was a bestseller and chosen as a Sunday Times book of the year. It is mostly at the fictional end of the historical fiction spectrum, and although St Cuthbert or Cuddy is, along with Durham Cathedral, the main link between its parts, he remains a peripheral and elusive figure who mostly appears in the other protagonists' dreams and vision.

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