More than half of titles in the running for the £30,000 Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 are published by independent presses, while the 20-strong longlist also features Douglas Stuart's Booker-winning debut Shuggie Bain (Picador) and one of Barack Obama's favourite books of last year, C Pam Zhang's How Much of These Hills is Gold (Virago).
The longlist, announced on Wednesday (20th January), celebrates titles from the stables of a number of independents: Daunt Books, Profile Books and Serpent's Tail, Tramp Press, Penned in the Margins, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Peepal Tree, Makina Books and Granta.
Amina Cain is longlisted for Indelicacy (Daunt Books), Carmen Maria Machado for In the Dream House (Serpent’s Tail), Doireann Ní Ghríofa for A Ghost In the Throat and Sara Baume for Handiwork (both Tramp Press), Inua Ellams for The Actual (Penned in the Margins), Katharina Volckmer for The Appointment (Fitzcarraldo Editions), Mark Gevisser for The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World of Queer Frontiers (Profile Books), Monique Roffey for The Mermaid of Black Conch and Nii Ayikwei Parkes for The Geez (both Peepal Tree), while Rebecca Tamás makes the longlist for Strangers (Makina Books), and Will Harris for RENDANG (Granta).
From the larger houses, Stuart's Booker-winning debut Shuggie Bain (Picador) is longlisted alongside Rachel Long's My Darling from the Lions from the same publisher, and the Booker Prize-longlisted Zhang's How Much of These Hills is Gold (Virago), commended by former US president Barack Obama at the end of last year.
Penguin Random House has a particularly good showing, with books from its imprints Penguin, Allen Lane, Harvill Secker and The Bodley Head all making the cut. They are: Caleb Femi's Poor (Penguin); Claudia Rankine's Just Us (Allen Lane); Elaine Feeney's As You Were (Harvill Secker); James Rebanks' English Pastoral (Allen Lane); Merlin Sheldrake's Entangled Life (Bodley Head); and Patrick Freyne's OK, Let's Do Your Stupid Idea (Penguin).
Eight of the longlisted books are works of non-fiction, seven are fiction and five are poetry collections.
The shortlist for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize is due to be announced on 10th February.
Launched in 2013, the Rathbones Folio Prize is the only literature prize open to all works of fiction and non-fiction originally published in the English language. It ran for the first time in 2014, but was suspended in 2016 following the ending of its initial two-year sponsorship from The Folio Society. It later secured sponsorship from Rathbone Investment Management, enabling it to increase its prize money to £30,000 while securing the future of the prize, mentorships and sessions until at least 2023.
Last year the prize was awarded to Valeria Luiselli for her "fiercely imaginative" autobiographical third novel, and her first to be written in English, Lost Children Archive (Fourth Estate). Poet Raymond Antrobus won the year before with his "exceptionally brave, kind" debut collection The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins).