The Folio Prize Announces 2015 Shortlist

Monday 9 February 2015: Judges of The Folio Prize 2015 have today announced the eight titles on the much anticipated shortlist:

10:04 by Ben Lerner (Granta)

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Faber)

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Granta)

Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta)

Family Life by Akhil Sharma (Faber)

How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín (Viking)

Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber)

Sponsored by The Folio Society, celebrated publisher of beautiful editions of the world’s greatest books, the prize recognises the best English-language fiction from around the world, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin.

Rich and varied, with writers originating from North America, the UK, Ireland, Kenya and India, the shortlist comprises a wide range of international voices. Familiar prize-winning names such as Ali Smith and Colm Tóibín are joined by critically-acclaimed newer voices like Ben Lerner and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. 

Independent publishers make a strong showing, with Faber and Granta representing three titles each, while the world's largest English language publisher, Penguin Random House, represents the remaining two places on the list. A number of these books are explicitly engaged with the process of writing itself, with each in its own way triumphantly affirming the unique role storytelling plays in making sense of our complex world.

Announcing the shortlist at the British Library, Chair of Judges William Fiennes, said: 

“This shortlist is the result of months of reading and hours of passionate conversation. The eight books we’ve chosen explore vast themes - time, loss, belonging, war, solitude, marriage and family, the making and the mystery of art - with amazing vitality and grace. 

“They manage to be both epic and intimate - in fact, they show those dimensions to be two sides of the same coin. They’ve surprised, moved, challenged and enchanted us. They’ve made us laugh. They’ve grown and deepened when we read them again. 

“But it’s not just the richness and fire of the individual books. We’re excited by the range of ideas, voices and approaches represented here, and by the way our shortlist shows the novel refreshing itself, reaching out for new shapes and strategies, still discovering what it might be, what it might do.”

Internationally acclaimed writers Rachel Cooke, Mohsin Hamid, A. M. Homes and Deborah Levy completed the judging panel, which selected the eight titles from a list of 80 books nominated by The Folio Prize Academy. These were the 80 works of fiction published in the UK in 2014 that, in the eyes of the 235 writers and critics who constitute the Academy, were the best of the year.

Andrew Kidd, Co-founder of The Folio Prize, said:

“Our judges have selected a shortlist that represents the very best fiction of today. It will undoubtedly stir debate, which we welcome, but what’s indisputable is that, in one way or another, each of these eight shortlisted books shows us how fiction still has the power to illuminate the human condition in unique ways, to challenge and console us, unsettle and enrich us.”

JM Rathé, Marketing Director of The Folio Society, said:

“In just two short years, The Folio Prize has established itself as a celebration of the best English-language fiction of our times. As sponsors, we are delighted to see such a stellar shortlist for 2015. This truly is fiction at its very best - eight books that resonate with today's reader, and, through their unique qualities, will continue to do so in years to come.” 

Shortlisted authors are now in the running for the £40,000 overall prize, which will be awarded at a special ceremony at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Monday 23 March. 

The winner announcement will mark the culmination of the Folio Prize Fiction Festival, which returns for its second year at the British Library from Friday 20th March to Sunday 22nd March. 

Featuring some of the world’s leading literary figures in addition to the shortlisted authors, the three day event will open with a new initiative for 2015: The Folio Society Lecture, delivered by internationally acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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