The Folio Prize 2014, claimed to be an alternative to the Man Booker prize, on Monday announced the eight titles that have been shortlisted, which include works from five Americans, one Canadian and two British-born authors.
The Folio Prize, which is reportedly born out of the frustration at the perceived shortcomings of the Man Booker, has a cash prize of more than $66,000, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, on March 10. Organizers of the award have said that the Folio Prize would not have existed had it not been for the controversy that struck the Booker shortlist in 2011 for emphasizing “readability” and a book’s ability to “zip along.”
The five American finalists are Rachel Kushner for "The Flamethrowers," Sergio de la Pava for "A Naked Singularity," Amity Gaige for "Schroeder," Kent Haruf for "Benediction" and George Saunders for "Tenth of December." Other finalists are Canadian poet Anne Carson for "Red Doc" and two writers from the U.K.: Jane Gardam for "Last Friends" and Eimear McBride for "A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing."
Announcing the shortlist, Lavinia Greenlaw, chair of the judges said: “From its inception, the emphasis of the Folio Prize has been on the relationship between good writing and good reading. The Prize makes an unapologetic assertion about the value of experience and expertise, and the high expectations that come from spending much of your life investigating and testing language and form.”
She went on adding that: “Our experience of reading 80 books over five months was full of surprises, challenges, frustrations, provocations, regrets and delights. The shortlist we’ve arrived at is one of which we’re proud. Our deliberations were long and intense. We forgot about the authors and focused on the books.”
The 190 members of The Folio Prize include Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee, Man Booker Prize winners Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan, and several winners of the American National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Toby Hartwell, managing director of The Folio Society, which sponsors the award, said that the society will also sponsor a new initiative -- The Folio Prize Fiction Festival -- that will be organized in partnership with the British Library on March 8-9.
The festival will feature The Folio Prize judges, shortlisted authors and members of the The Folio Society. The program is organized keeping in mind the five elements said to be an integral part of great fiction -- Form, Voice, Structure, Place and Context.
“There is no doubt that the prize intends to reward serious literary endeavor and those writers who are innovative in their use of language," Greenlaw said.