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Folio Prize 2015

“The Folio Prize is the first major English language book prize open to writers from around the world. Its aim is simple: to celebrate the best fiction of our time, regardless of form or genre, and to bring it to the attention of as many readers as possible.


Through The Folio Prize Academy, an international group of people who write, review and delight in books, it will discover and promote excellence in writing, encouraging people to put great literature at the centre of their lives.”

Here is the 2015 Shortlist:

10:04 by Ben Lerner

“In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child, despite his dating a rising star in the visual arts. In a New York of increasingly frequent super storms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water.” publisher

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

“You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking. But Elf’s latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Her long-time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf’s loving husband knows what to tell him. Can she be nursed back to “health” in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.” publisher

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

“Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.”  publisher

Dust by Yvonne Adhaimbo Owuor

“Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany’s mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.” publisher

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

“Growing up in Delhi in 1978, eight-year-old Ajay Mishra and his older brother Birju play cricket on the streets, eagerly waiting for the day they can join their father in America. America to the Mishras is, indeed, everything they could have imagined and more until tragedy strikes. Young Ajay prays to a God he envisions as Superman, searching for direction amid the ruins of his family’s new life. Heart-wrenching and darkly funny, Family Life is a universal story of a boy torn between duty and his own survival.” publisher

How to be Both by Ali Smith

“How to be both is a novel all about the versatility of art. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving, genre-bending conversation among forms, times, truths, and fictions. There’s a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structure gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real—and all life’s “givens” get a second chance.” publisher

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

“Set in Wexford, Ireland, and in breathtaking Ballyconnigar by the sea, Colm Toibin’s tour de force eighth novel introduces the formidable, memorable Nora Webster. Widowed at 40, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world she was born into. Wounded and self-centred from grief and the need to provide for her family, she struggles to be attentive to her children’s needs and their own difficult loss. In masterfully detailing the intimate lives of one small family, Toibin has given us a vivid portrait of a time and an intricately woven tapestry of lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, and where well-meaning gestures often have unforeseen consequences.” publisher

Outline by Rachel Cusk

“Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinners and discourse. She goes swimming with an elderly Greek bachelor. The people she encounters speak, volubly, about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss. ” publisher

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