The all-encompassing fiction prize announces its first shortlist – which sports a distinctly American accent…
The eight books which comprise the Folio Prize’s first shortlist were announced this morning at London’s British Library.
The shortlist was nominated by The Folio Prize Academy of authors and critics, and chosen by the judging panel Lavinia Greenlaw, Michael Chabon, Sarah Hall, Nam Le, and Pankaj Mishra.
Five of the authors shortlisted – Amity Gaige, Kent Haruf, Rachel Kushner, Sergio De La Pava and George Saunders are either American nationals or based in the country, but chair of judges Lavinia Greenlaw insisted that this was pure coincidence – “The shortlist we’ve arrived at is one of which we’re proud,” she said, “We forgot about the authors and focused on the books.” The prize’s founder Andrew Kidd echoed her comments, saying “This is how it turned out this year, who knows how it might turn out next year? I don’t think it reflects any issue with writing from this country or anywhere else.”
The only UK author to make the cut was Jane Gardam, for the third novel in her Old Filth trilogy. Debut Irish writer Eimear McBride is one of two first time authors on the list – alongside Sergio De La Pava, whose 800-page novel was originally self published.
The prize – which is open to authors from all over the world, writing in English and published in the UK in the last calendar year – is open to narrative fiction written in the form of verse, short stories or the novel. The overall winner, announced on 10th March, will win £40,000.
Folio Society MD Toby Hartwell also took the opportunity to announce the Folio Fiction Festival – a series of special events in the build up to the announcement of the overall prize winner, which will take place at The British Library on 8-9th March.
Kidd summed up by saying “It’s a list that ticks no boxes, balances the interests of no constituencies and will no doubt stir all kinds of debate. In the end it is, quite simply, the eight books that in the collective view of five brilliant readers were the best pieces of storytelling of 2013.”
The shortlist in full:
Red Doc, Anne Carson (Random House/Jonathan Cape)
Schroder, Amity Gaige (Faber & Faber)
Last Friends, Jane Gardam (Little, Brown)
Benediction, Kent Haruf (Picador)
The Flame Throwers, Rachel Kushner (Random House/Harvill Secker)
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar Press)
A Naked Singularity, Sergio De La Pava (Maclehose Editions)
Tenth of December, George Saunders (Bloomsbury)