Writers’ Prize 2024: Smith, Murray, Klein lead diverse shortlist

Renowned authors Zadie Smith, Paul Murray and Naomi Klein are on the shortlist for the prestigious Writers’ Prize, previously known as the Rathbones Folio Prize, The Guardian reports. 

Smith’s historical novel, The Fraud, and Murray’s Booker-shortlisted tale, The Bee Sting, are contenders in the fiction category. Anne Enright’s The Wren, the Wren, a portrayal of an unhappy family, joins the fiction shortlist, according to the report.

In the nonfiction realm, Laura Cumming’s Thunderclap and Mark O’Connell’s A Thread of Violence are vying for the prize alongside Klein’s exploration of truth in politics, Doppelganger.

The poetry shortlist comprises Jason Allen-Paisant’s Self-Portrait as Othello, Liz Berry’s The Home Child, and Mary Jean Chan’s Bright Fear. Chan’s work, delving into the poet’s parents coming to terms with their child’s sexuality, has been lauded as “like testing the blade of a knife and finding it exquisitely sharp” by The Observer’s poetry critic Kate Kellaway.

Each category winner will receive a £2,000 prize, and the overall winner will be granted an additional £30,000

A significant shift this year is the absence of judges. The shortlists were selected by the Folio Academy, comprising over 350 acclaimed writers. Academy members will cast votes for the winners, and the results will be unveiled at the London Book Fair on March 13. This change follows the departure of investment management company Rathbones as the prize sponsor.

The prize, now known as the Writers’ Prize, continues thanks to the support of private individuals, book industry-related businesses, members of the Folio Academy, and trusts, maintaining the prize pot at £36,000. Prize director Minna Fry expressed delight in this year’s shortlists, highlighting the academy’s role in recognizing outstanding literary works. The winners, eagerly anticipated, are expected to be announced at the upcoming London Book Fair.

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