There will be a digital award ceremony for the Rathbones Folio Prize tonight (23rd March), after the Rathbones Folio Sessions and gala event at the British Library were cancelled owing to Covid-19.
Inviting readers to follow the ceremony online, the speeches, written contributions and awards presentation will be available live on Twitter and at www.rathbonesfolioprize.com from 7 p.m. GMT, with BBC Radio 4 announcing the winner live on Front Row from 7.15 p.m. The winner will receive a cheque for £30,000 and a trophy created by stone sculptor Fiona Peever.
Supported by Waterstones and the British Library, with an "extensive" Twitter marketing campaign, Waterstones will also be offering 500 people currently self-isolating the chance to win a copy of the winning book, which will be delivered to them at home. Further giveaways and competitions are being offered to independent bookshops including The Big Green Bookshop’s #Buyastrangerabook Twitter initiative, Lutyens & Rubinstein in London and The Mainstreet Trading Company in the Scottish Borders.
Rathbones Folio Prize director Minna Fry said: "As the world collapses around us, it’s been quite a challenge to keep up with the pace of change, but we were determined to find a way to go ahead, to celebrate the eight brilliant shortlisted authors and to reward the book our judges considered the very best of the year. Thanks to the great support of Waterstones and the British Library, and a hefty marketing spend, we hope that news of the winner will reach a wider audience than ever before, and we urge everyone to support us in this endeavour by following and retweeting wherever we pop up on social media. These eight wonderful books really can help stave off the anxiety in these uncertain times by transporting you to other worlds."
The 2020 shortlist for the prize contains three novels, one collection of poetry, a short story collection, a book of essays and two works of non-fiction from the UK, Ireland, Mexico and North America.
The full shortlist comprises: Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson (PRH/Cape); On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming (PRH/Chatto); Constellations by Sinead Gleeson (Picador); Victory by James Lasdun (PRH/Cape); The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (Granta); Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Fourth Estate); Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni (Scribe); and Grand Union by Zadie Smith (PRH/Hamish Hamilton).
Judging the prize are poet and non-fiction writer Paul Farley, Desmond Elliott Prize-winning novelist Nikita Lalwani, and Ross Raisin, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year winner and a Granta Best of Young British Novelists.