By Dennis Abrams
Judges of the 2015 Folio Prize have announced the eight titles on their 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 Owur (Granta)
- Family Life by Akhil Sharma (Faber)
- How to be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
- Nora Webster by Colm Toibin (Viking)
- Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber)
This year’s shortlist contains writers from North America, the UK, Ireland, Kenya and India, with familiar prize-winning names — Ali Smith and Colm Toibin — alongside critically acclaimed newer voices such as Ben Lerner and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor.
Independent publishers made a strong showing this year: Faber and Granta had three titles each on the shortlist, while the world’s largest English language publisher, Penguin Random House, took the remaining two spots.
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 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, and what it might do.”
JM Rathe, Marketing Director of The Folio Society added:
“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.”
Writers Rachel Cooke, Moshin Hamid, A.M. Homes and Deborah Levy were part of the judging panel, which selected the eight titles from a list of 80 books nominated by The Folio Prize Academy – the 80 books published in the UK in 2014 that, at least according to the 235 writers and critics who make up the Academy, were the best of the year.
Shortlisted authors are now in the funning for the £40,000 over all prize, which will be presented on Monday, March 23, as the culmination of the Folio Prize Fiction Festival.