Andrew McMillan’s series of “hymns to the male body”, Physical (Jonathan Cape), has become the second collection of poetry to be shortlisted for the Guardian First Book award since it was established in 1999.
McMillan’s exploration of modern masculinity is one of six debuts in contention for the £10,000 prize that rewards debuts in any genre, the Guardian has revealed.
Max Porter was also shortlisted for his story Grief is the Thing With Feathers (Faber) about a Ted Hughes scholar and his two young sons grappling with their mother’s death. Sara Taylor's The Shore (William Heinemann), a series of interlinked stories set on islands off the coast of Virginia, Diane Cook's debut short story collection, Man v Nature (Oneworld), and Chigozie Obioma's Booker-shortlisted The Fishermen (ONE/Pushkin Press), in which four brothers skip school in 1990s Nigeria with tragic results, were also shortlisted.
The only non-fiction title on this year's shortlist is Peter Pomerantsev’s Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible (Faber), a look at 21st century Russia.
Guardian books editor Claire Armitstead, who announced the shortlist, said: “This has been a great year for fiction, with writers pushing at all sorts of boundaries, whether through the hybrid form of Max Porter’s Grief Is the Thing With Feathers, a profound and moving look at family bereavement partly narrated by a crow, or the fusion of African and western literary traditions in Chigozie Obioma’s fraternal tragedy The Fishermen.”
She added that non-fiction was “harder to find this year”, but that Pomerantsev’s Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible “brings a dazzling eye for detail to the surreal excesses of Russian society”.
Past winners include Zadie Smith, Kevin Powers, Petina Gappah, and Colin Barrett in 2014.
The judging panel is made up of historian Tom Holland, broadcaster Emily Maitlis, poet Kei Miller and critic Alex Clark.
The winner will be announced on 25th November.