2015 Folio Prize goes to Akhil Sharma

This year’s Folio Prize has been awarded to Akhil Sharma for his novel Family Life. It’s a case of seconds for both prize and author – the second year that the Folio has run (following George Saunders’ inaugural victory in 2014 for his short story collection Tenth of December) and only Sharma’s second novel, one on which he worked for 13 years prior to publication.

The annual prize is open to English-language fiction of any genre, form or country of origin, with the winner taking home £40,000. This year, the Indian-American Sharma won from an initial longlist of 80 and a shortlist of eight. His fellow finalists were: 10:04 by Ben Lerner; All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor; ; How to Be Both by Ali Smith; Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín; and Outline by Rachel Cusk.

This year’s judging panel was comprised of Rachel Cooke, Mohsin Hamid, AM Homes, Deborah Levy, and chair William Fiennes, who said of Sharma’s book: ‘Family Life is a masterful novel of distilled complexity, about catastrophe and survival; attachment and independence; the tension between selfishness and responsibility‘, and that ‘We loved its deceptive simplicity and rare warmth … This is a work of art that expands with each re-reading and a novel that will endure.’

The prize’s co-founder, literary agent Andrew Kidd, added: ‘In this second year of the prize our five judges have again lived up to every expectation, selecting from a glorious shortlist a heartbreaking and funny novel whose astonishing power is achieved in constantly surprising ways.’ He also expressed hopes that ‘the Folio prize will now help it to find many more readers, both in the UK and around the world.’

Family Life is published by Faber, making it the first winner of the Folio Prize to come from an independent house.

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