By Dennis Abrams
George Saunders has been announced as the winner of The Folio Prize 2014 for Tenth of December (Bloomsbury), sponsored by The Folio Society.
The Folio Prize 2014, worth 40,000 pounds, was created to recognize and celebrate the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the UK during a given year, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin. It is the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world. This is its inaugural year.
The other 2014 shortlisted titles were:
Red Doc by Anne Carson (Random House/Jonathan Cape)
Schroder by Amity Gaige (Faber & Faber)
Last Friends by Jane Gardam (Little, Brown)
Benediction by Kent Haruf (Picador)
The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner (Random House/Harvill Secker)
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar Press)
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava (Maclehose Editions)
On announcing the winner, Chair of the Judges Lavinia Greenlaw said:
“George Saunders’s stories are both artful and profound. Darkly playful, they take us to the edge of some of the most difficult questions of our time and force us to consider what lies behind and beyond them. His subject is the human self under ordinary and extraordinary pressure. His worlds are heightened versions of our own, full of inexorable confrontations from which we are not easily released. Unflinching, delightful, adventurous, compassionate, he is a true original whose work is absolutely of the moment. We have no doubt that these stories will prove more essential in years to come.”
Andrew Kidd, Founder of the Folio Prize added:
“From start to finish the five inaugural Folio Prize judges have been heroic. Reading with acuity, dedication and compassion to identify the best English-language fiction published in 2013, they offered up a shortlist of astonishing quality and range: eight books that will be read with intense pleasure for decades to come. In the winner, George Saunders’s Tenth of December, they have recognized one of the great writers of our age, and one of the undisputed masters of his form. It’s a brilliant choice which boldly affirms the aims of the prize: to celebrate the most perfectly realized and thrilling storytelling of our time.”
And finally, Toby Hartwell, Managing Director, The Folio Society said:
“The breadth and range of the shortlist for this first Folio Prize was stunning and I don’t know how the judges were able to choose just one book to win. The Folio Society is immensely proud of what the Folio Prize stands for in seeking to bring to public attention the best new fiction of our time. With Tenth of December George Saunders has given us an exception first winner and I am delighted for him.
“Every one of the authors shortlisted for the prize has proved that great fiction writing is in rude health. They have also abundantly demonstrated that literature can be taken in new and exciting directions and that has to be good for readers everywhere.”