The Folio Prize: A New King or Pretender to the Throne?

on Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Well, after much hoopla it's finally here: the shortlist for the inaugural Folio Prize. You remember the Folio, right? The one that aims to find the best novel written in the English language for any given year. The one that respects no territorial boundary. The one that claims to bring the 'literary' back into literary prizes. The one that sent Team Booker scrambling to redefine itself to, um, find the best novel written in the English language, respect no territorial boundaries and bring the 'literary' back into literary prizes. Yep, Folio is beating Booker to the punch by a good eight months so it will be interesting to see whether we end up with duplication and redundancy or something quite exciting, shiny and new.

For those who haven't seen it, the books in contention for (potential) glory are:

Red Doc by Anne Carson (Canada)
Schroder by Amity Gage (USA)
Last Friends by Jane Gardam (UK)
Benediction by Kent Haruf (USA)
The Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner (USA)
A Girl is a Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Ireland)
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava (USA)
Tenth of December by George Saunders (USA)

A mildly interesting list to be sure (extra kudos for the inclusion of fresh faced risk takers McBride and De La Pava), but it does nothing to mollify the naysayers. Seems the American invasion really is here. And where are the books from the non-emancipated colonies? Nothing from India? South Africa? Australia? New Zealand? Surely there've been a few excellent English language novels from unexpected countries. Hmmmm. Is it possible that Folio have given a free kick to Team Booker to present a more even-handed shortlist when the time comes?

The literary War of the Roses kicks off on March 10. Grab your popcorn!


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