Louis Cameron

Congratulations to Darwin College PhD student in English, Louis Cameron, who has won Robinson College’s Sykes Prize 2024.  Contributors were asked to submit a piece of creative writing which engaged with the idea of humanity’s place in nature, in response to an 1824 quotation by Giacomo Leopardi:

Did you perhaps imagine that the world was made for your benefit? Let me tell you that in my handiworks, in my arrangements and my operations, except very seldom, I always had and always have a mind to things quite other than the happiness of men or their unhappiness.

Louis’s story, Alfred Popkin Takes It All The Way To The Top, used the prompt to reimagine the suffering of Job, as a bereaved father struggles through increasingly farcical levels of bureaucracy to understand why God has seen fit to inflict such pain on him.

“This year’s prompt and the extract that accompanied it made me think of the biblical Book of Job, which deals with extreme suffering but which is also, like the Leopardi piece, laced with unexpected humour and irony,” he explains.

“This humour, rather than trivialising its subject, says something important, I think, about the awkwardness, even the absurdity, of humanity’s place in nature, and I tried to reproduce some of its effects without confining myself to a strict retelling. I am honoured to have been selected for the prize, and very grateful to the judges for their time and consideration. It’s not often that I write fiction, and to have any of my work received well is extremely encouraging.”

Back to News Page