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The Rathbones Folio Prize logo. Image via Google.

The shortlist for the 2017 Rathbones Folio Prize has been announced and it’s one of a kind: it combines both fiction and nonfiction. Here are the eight shortlisted books for the 20,000-pound prize.

Priding itself as “the first major English language book prize to celebrate the best literature of our time, regardless of form,” the Rathbones Folio Prize has an interesting history. Founded as simply the Literature Prize in 2014, the prize had been conceived as an alternative to the Booker Prize after the 2011 Booker shortlist received serious criticism. That year, the Booker judges were accused of having leaned towards “readability” at the expense of literary merit. The Folio Prize gained massive support among the globe’s leading writers–including Booker winners Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee; and Baileys winners Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who was due to deliver the award’s inaugural lecture in 2014 until an illness ensured she could not.

While its combination of fiction and nonfiction in a single shortlist is unprecedented for a highbrow literary fiction award, the prize already set its own pace when, at its founding in 2014, it considered every English-language novel published in the UK by an author from any country worldwide. At that time, the Booker was still limited to only authors from Commonwealth countries.

In its three-year existence, the prize has undergone three name changes. From the Literature Prize, it became the Folio Prize after the London-based publisher The Folio Society picked interest, and after Rathbones Investment Management Ltd became its sponsors last December, it became the Rathbones Folio Prize.

The inaugural 2014 prize was won by the American George Saunders for his short story collection Tenth of December. In 2015, the Indian-American Akhil Sharma won for his autobiographical novel Family Life. That year, Kenya’s Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor became the first African to be shortlisted for her poetic novel Dust. The prize was not awarded in 2016.

Find out more in The Guardian UK.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young’s writing has been shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, the 2017 Gerald Kraak Award, and nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. His fiction has appeared in Transition (“A Tenderer Blessing,” 2015), The Threepenny Review (“Mulumba,” 2016), and Pride and Prejudice: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality (“You Sing of a Longing,” 2017), an anthology of The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation. His work further appears in Interdisciplinary Academic Essays, Africa in Dialogue, and Brittle Paper, where he is submissions editor. He is the editor of the Art Naija Series: a sequence of concept-based e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness. The first anthology, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (Oct., 2016) focuses on cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June, 2017) focuses on professions. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and currently teaches English at another Nigerian university. When bored, he blogs pop culture at naijakulture.blogspot.com or just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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