The shortlist for the first Folio Prize was announced today. The eight nominated books are:Red Doc by Anne Carson Schroder by Amity Gaige Last Friends by Jane Gardam Benediction by Kent Haruf The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava Tenth of December by George Saunders
The Folio Prize is open to all works of fiction written in English in all forms and the first shortlist is certainly varied. It includes a collection of short stories (‘Tenth of December’), “verse prose”, (‘Red Doc’) and a novel which was rejected by several publishers for being too experimental (‘A Girl is a Half-formed Thing’). As usual, I have so far read none of them but I am particularly intrigued by ‘The Flamethrowers’, ‘A Naked Singularity’ and ‘Tenth of December’. If you have read any of the shortlisted books, I would love to hear your thoughts.
The verdict so far seems to be that the shortlist is a strong one although the dominance of American authors has been widely commented on – five out of the eight nominated authors are from the United States. However, the founder of the Prize, Andrew Kidd, has been keen to emphasise the “borderless” nature of the award saying “This is how it happened to turn out this year. Who knows how it might turn out next year.” It will be interesting to see if any of these titles crop up in this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist now that it has been opened up to authors outside the Commonwealth.
The winner of the £40,000 prize will be announced on 10th March.