The 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize, which was established in 2013, is described as ‘borderless and open to all genres – fiction, non-fiction, and poetry – which means it reflects a greater diversity and variety of voices present in our literary culture and society as a whole.‘ The winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize will be announced in a ceremony at the British Library on Monday 27 March.
A new structure has been created for this year’s prize with three specific category shortlists that highlight the global talent of the literary world across fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
‘Impressively launched its new structure with three specific category shortlists that speak to the global talent of the literary world across fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The prize foundation has refreshed its format to address the changing landscape of literary prizes, and by creating a more focussed structure, it offers readers and retailers a clearer and broader range of recommendations – and celebrates the fifteen most exceptional and exciting books across each format.’
Today I am going to shine my spotlight on the Fiction Category of the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize, which consists of the following five nominees:
NoViolet Bulawayo – Glory (Chatto & Windus)
Sheila Heti – Pure Colour (Harvill Secker)
Daisy Hildyard – Emergency (Fitzcarraldo)
Michelle de Kretser – Scary Monsters (Allen & Unwin)
Elizabeth Strout – Lucy by the Sea (Viking)
Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Judges said:
A novel of such imaginative force that in navigating its own imagined reality, it unmoors our own.
A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animal denizens lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals — along with a new leader.
Glory tells the story of a country seemingly trapped in a cycle as old as time. And yet, as it unveils the myriad tricks required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, it reminds us that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it. History can be stopped in a moment. With the return of a long-lost daughter, a #freefairncredibleelection, a turning tide — even a single bullet.
(Published by Chatto & Windus)
NoViolet Bulawayo grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
When she was eighteen, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her first novel, We Need New Names, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, among others and Glory was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser
The Judges said:
A sublime novel that slips, fascinates and terrifies at once. De Kretser’s Scary Monsters deserves to be read again and again.
Lyle works for a sinister government department in near-future Australia. An Asian migrant, he fears repatriation and embraces ‘Australian values’. He’s also preoccupied by his ambitious wife, his wayward children and his strong-minded elderly mother.
Lili’s family migrated to Australia from Asia when she was a teenager. Now, in the 1980s, she’s teaching in the south of France. She makes friends, observes the treatment handed out to North African immigrants and is creeped out by her downstairs neighbour.
Three scary monsters – racism, misogyny and ageism – roam through this mesmerising novel. Its reversible format enacts the disorientation that migrants experience when changing countries changes the story of their lives.
(Published by Allen & Unwin)
Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. She was educated in Melbourne and Paris.
She is the author of five other novels: The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, The Lost Dog, which was longlisted for both the Man Booker and the Orange Prize, Questions of Travel, which won several prizes including the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, and The Life to Come, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award. She lives in Sydney.
Pure Colour Sheila Heti
The Judges said:
Near miraculous. Heti finds emergent ways to speak into the spirit of creation, devotion, and transformation.
Here we are, just living in the first draft of creation, which was made by some great artist, who is now getting ready to tear it apart.
In this first draft, a woman named Mira leaves home to study. There, she meets Annie, whose tremendous power opens Mira’s chest like a portal – to what, she doesn’t know. When Mira is older, her beloved father dies, and she enters that strange and dizzying dimension that true loss opens up.
Pure Colour tells the story of a life, from beginning to end.
(Published by Harvill Secker)
Sheila Heti is the author of ten books, including the novels Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She was named one of the ‘New Vanguard’ by the New York Times book critics, who, along with a dozen other magazines and newspapers, chose Motherhood as a best book of the year.
She lives in Toronto and Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
Emergency by Daisy Hildyard
The Judges said:
Hildyard undoes proximity and relation so as to reorientate the reader toward catastrophe. A profoundly conceived novel that breaches our own myopia.
Emergency is a novel about the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth. Stuck at home alone under lockdown, a woman recounts her 1990s childhood in rural Yorkshire. She watches a kestrel hunting, helps a farmer with a renegade bull, and plays outside with her best friend, Clare.
A story of remote violence and a work of praise for a persistently lively world, Daisy Hildyard’s Emergency reinvents the pastoral novel for the climate change era.
(Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Daisy Hildyard’s debut novel, Hunters in the Snow, came out with Jonathan Cape in 2013 and received the Somerset Maugham Award and a ‘5 under 35’ honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. Her essay The Second Body was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017.
She lives in York with her family
Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout
The Judges said:
A novel that holds so much compassion, truth and grace with such weightless language.
In March 2020 Lucy’s ex-husband William pleads with her to leave New York and escape to a coastal house he has rented in Maine. Lucy reluctantly agrees, leaving the washing-up in the sink, expecting to be back in a week or two. Weeks turn into months, and it’s just Lucy, William, and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the sea.
Lucy by the Sea evokes the fragility and uncertainty of the recent past, as well as the possibilities that those long, quiet days can inspire. At the heart of the novel are the deep human connections that sustain us, even as the world seems to be falling apart
Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as Oh William!, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, as well as The Burgess Boys, Abide With Me and Amy and Isabelle. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize.
She lives in New York City and Portland, Maine
Further details of all the shortlisted nominees across all three categories in the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize are available HERE