Rushdie, Fagan, Gunn on James Tait Black shortlists

Rushdie, Fagan, Gunn on James Tait Black shortlists

Salman Rushdie and Jenni Fagan are among the authors shortlisted for the £10,000 James Tait Black biography and fiction awards. The shortlist for the newly created drama category is to be announced later this month.

Contenders for the fiction prize are Scottish author Fagan's The Panopticon (Windmill Books), about a 15-year-old who finds herself headed for a home for chronic young offenders but can¹t remember why; The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn (Faber), about a dying man creating a musical composition that will define his life; Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (Granta), about a young American poet on a fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self; and The Deadman's Pedal by Alan Warner (Vintage), about a 16-year-old who leaves school to become a train driver and is introduced to a world of glamour.

Vying for the biography prize are Rushdie's Joseph Anton: A Memoir (Jonathan Cape), an autobiographical examination of his time living under a fatwa; Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece by Michael Gorra (W W Norton); The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew, Modern Pots, Colonialism and the Counterculture by Tanya Harrod (Yale University Press), which looks at the life of the renowned potter; and Circulation: William Harvey's Revolutionary Idea by Thomas Wright (Vintage), which tackles the life of Harvey, the doctor who described the phenomenon of the circulation of the blood.

The shortlist for the new James Tait Black prize for drama will be announced at the end of May. The winners of all categories will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.

The prizes are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh for books published during the previous year in the relevant categories. They are the only major British book awards judged by literature scholars and students.

The chair of the judging panel Greg Walker, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh described this year's shortlists as "exceptional" and said: "The James Tait Black Awards represent the very best in fiction and biographies and we have the chance to celebrate an exciting mix of respected writers and emerging talent."