Zadie Smith, Valeria Luiselli & Ben Lerner finalists for $51K Folio Prize for best literary work of the year

The shortlist includes three novels, three works of nonfiction, along with a poetry and a short story collection. The winner will be announced on March 23, 2020.
Zadie Smith, Valeria Luiselli and Ben Lerner are among the 2020 Rathbones Folio Prize finalists. (Dominique Nabokov, Diego Berruecos/Gatopardo, Matt Lerner)

Zadie Smith, Valeria Luiselli and Ben Lerner are among the eight finalists for the 2020 Rathbones Folio Prize.

The annual £30,000 ($51,560.92 Cdn) prize recognizes the best literary work of the year, in any form. This year's shortlist includes three novels, three works of nonfiction, along with a poetry and a short story collection.

Smith is shortlisted for her first collection of short stories Grand Union.

The genre-spanning collection features both previously published works and 11 new stories meditating on race, class, relationships and gender roles.

Smith is joined by two-time Folio Prize finalist Lerner for his coming-of-age novel The Topeka School that tells the story of a family dealing with past trauma and navigating the challenges of raising a son in a culture of toxic masculinity.

Luiselli is nominated for her novel Lost Children Archive. The story, inspired by recent current events, follows a family road trip from New York to Arizona that grows tense when news of the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border emerges. 

Lost Children Archive was also longlisted for 2019 Booker Prize. 

Victory by James Lasdun is the third novel to make this year's shortlist.

Among the nominated works of nonfiction are the essay collection Constellations: Reflections from Life by debut writer Sinéad Gleeson, the biographical Guest House for Young Widows by journalist and writer Azadeh Moaveni and memoir On Chapel Sands by author and critic Laura Cumming.

Completing the list is Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson, winner of the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection and the only work of poetry nominated this year.

The 2020 winner will be announced on March 23, 2020.

This year's prize is being judged by Paul Farley, Nikita Lalwani and Ross Raisin.

British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus won the 2019 prize for his debut poetry collection The Perseverance.

Other past winners include Hisham Matar for the memoir The Return and Richard Lloyd Parry for the nonfiction book Ghosts of the Tsunami.


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