James Tait Black Prizes announce shortlist

Shortlists for the James Tait Black Prizes, which have been awarded by the University of Edinburgh for more than a century and are considered the world’s oldest literary prizes, have been announced.

The literary honours have been presented by the University of Edinburgh since 1919, and are the only major British book prizes which are judged by literature scholars and students.

The shortlist for the prizes – awarded to a work of fiction and a biography, with both picking up £10,000  – feature authors with links to America, Denmark, Finland and Oman.

The four novels shortlisted for the fiction prize are Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi, translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, Bolla by Pajtim Statovci, translated from Finnish by David Hackston and After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz.

The shortlisted biographies are Homesick by Jennifer Croft, A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast by Dorthe Nors, translated from Danish by Caroline Waight, Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan by Darryl Pinckney and A History of Water: Being an Account of a Murder, an Epic and Two Visions of Global History by Edward Wilson-Lee (William Collins).  

Biography judge Dr Simon Cooke, of Edinburgh University, said: “Absorbing, resonantly voiced, and beautifully realised, these life-writings open fascinating and various worlds, and searchingly inquire into the transformative relations between literature and life.”    

All the shortlisted titles will be read and discussed by students and academics to decide the winners, with these due to be announced by the University of Edinburgh in July.


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