2015 Folio Prize shortlist revealed

The Folio Prize – open to English-language fiction of any genre, form or country of origin – has announced the shortlist for its second year. The eight nominees for the sophomore award are: 10:04 by Ben Lerner; All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor; Family Life by Akhil Sharma; How to Be Both by Ali Smith; Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín; and Outline by Rachel Cusk. Those eight were whittled down from a longlist of 80.

Notably, six of the eight nominees are published by independent houses: Cusk, Sharma and Toews by Faber, and Lerner, Offill and Owuor by Granta.

The judging panel this year consists of writers Rachel Cooke, Mohsin Hamid, A. M. Homes, Deborah Levy and chair William Fiennes, who says of the nominated titles:

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.

The winner, announced on 23 March, takes home £40,000. The announcement marks the climax of the Folio Prize Fiction Festival, also (as the name implies) entering its second year. This year’s festival will however open with a new addition, in the form of the Folio Society Lecture, to be delivered in its inaugural outing by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Last year’s trophy went to George Saunders for his collection of short stories Tenth of December.

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