Canadian poet Anne Carson is among the nominees for a new literary prize designed to find the best book published in Britain.

The £40,000 pound (about $72,000 Cdn) Folio Prize is open to any book published in Britain in 2013.

Anne Carson

Canadian poet Anne Carson is one of the inaugural nominees for the U.K.'s Folio Prize. (Random House of Canada)

The list of eight finalists, announced Monday, has a has a strongly North American accent.

Along with Toronto-born Carson (up for the long-form poem Red Doc), there are five American writers: Amity Gaige (Schroder), Kent Haruf (Benediction), Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers), Sergio De La Pava (A Naked Singularity) and George Saunders (Tenth of December).

Rounding out the list are Britain-based writers Jane Gardam (Last Friends) and Eimear McBride (A Girl is a Half-Formed thing).

British poet Lavinia Greenlaw, who is chairing the judging panel, says the American emphasis was a coincidence.

"We forgot about the authors and focused on the books," she said, adding that what the books had in common was risk-taking authors "doing things that should fail and pulling them off."

The contest is in its first year and hopes to rival the Booker Prize as the English-speaking world's most prestigious literary award. But it has been criticized by some in the U.K. literary world who feel British authors will be overlooked.

Those concerns have grown since the Booker, previously confined to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, announced that it will be open to all nationalities starting this year.

But Folio Prize founder Andrew Kidd said: "It seemed perverse that we would have launched a prize in 2013 which was other than borderless, in an increasingly borderless world."

The winner will be announced March 10 in London.