The shortlist for this year's £30,000 Rathbones Folio Prize has been revealed, featuring Costa-winner Monique Roffey, poet Caleb Femi and a double selection for Irish indie Tramp Press.
Judges chose books by seven women and one man to be in contention for the award, which looks for the best fiction, non-fiction and poetry in English from around the world. Five of the eight books are published by indies, and three of the shortlisted authors are Irish.
Sara Baume's handiwork, charting the author’s daily process of making and writing, exploring what it is to create and live as an artist, is the first of two books published by Tramp Press on the shortlist. It is joined by Doireann Ní Ghríofa's A Ghost in the Throat, which won the An Post Irish Book of the Year and follows the 18th-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, and prompting her to turn detective.
Roffey's feminist revision of Caribbean myths The Mermaid of Black Conch (Peepal Tree Press) is shortlisted just weeks after it took the Costa Book of the Year crown. It is picked alongside Femi's Poor (Penguin), which explores the estates of south London through poetry and photography.
Also in the running are Amina Cain's Indelicacy (Daunt Books), a feminist fable about class and desire, and Elaine Feeney's darkly comic As You Were (Harvill Secker), which tackles the “intimate histories, institutional failures and the darkly present past of modern Ireland”.
Poet Rachel Long makes the list for debut collection My Darling from the Lions (Picador), which “skewers sexual politics, religious awakenings and family quirks with wit, warmth and precision”. Carmen Maria Machado's innovative, genre-bending book about domestic abuse, In the Dream House: A Memoir (Serpent’s Tail), completes the selection.
Roger Robinson, who is joined by Sinead Gleeson and Jon McGregor on the judging panel, said: “It was such a joy to spend detailed and intimate time with the books nominated for the Rathbones Folio Prize and travel deep into their worlds. The judges chose the eight books on the shortlist because they are pushing at the edges of their forms in interesting ways, without sacrificing narrative or execution. The conversations between the judges may have been as edifying as the books themselves. From a judges’ vantage point, the future of book publishing looks incredibly healthy—and reading a book is still one of the most revolutionary things that one can do.”
The winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize will be announced in a digital ceremony hosted with the British Library on 24th March.
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