Three Irish writers have been selected for the eight-strong shortlist for this year’s £30,000 Rathbones Folio Prize.
Elaine Feeney has been shortlisted for her darkly comic debut novel, As You Were, which tackles the intimate histories and institutional failures of a past-haunted modern Ireland; Sara Baume for handiwork, which explores what it is to create and to live as an artist; and Doireann Ní Ghríofa for her An Post Irish Book of the Year A Ghost in the Throat, about her fascination with the 18th-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. Baume and Ní Ghríofa are both published by the small Irish publisher, Tramp Press.
Five of the titles shortlisted are from independent publishers and seven of the authors are women, including Monique Roffey, whose The Mermaid of Black Conch (Peepal Tree Press), a feminist revision of Caribbean mermaid myths, last month won Costa Book of the Year.
Indelicacy (Daunt Books) by Amina Cain is a feminist fable about class and desire; Poor (Penguin) by Caleb Femi explores the estates of south London through poetry and photography; My Darling from the Lions (Picador), poet Rachel Long’s acclaimed debut collection, skewers sexual politics, religious awakenings and family quirks with wit, warmth and precision. In the Dream House: A Memoir (Serpent’s Tail) by Carmen Maria Machado is a formally innovative, genre-bending memoir about domestic abuse.
The winner will be announced on March 24th.
“ 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,” said poet Roger Robinson, one of the three judges along with Irish writer and critic Sinéad Gleeson and author Jon McGregor. “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.”
Last year’s prize went to the Mexican novelist and essayist Valeria Luiselli for her fiercely imaginative autobiographical work of fiction Lost Children Archive (4th Estate).