George Saunders Wins The Folio Prize

Thursday 13 March 2014 by

Last Monday heralded the announcement of the winner of the inaugural Folio Prize – a prize open to all works of fiction written in English and published in the UK, no matter the genre or format, with the winner receiving £40,000. The Folio has caused a stir since it was first announced, and the prize winner will no doubt continue to make waves. But, who won?


Tenth of December, Book, Bloomsbury, George Saunders

Tenth of December, George Saunders

Published by Bloomsbury

“The best short story writer in English – not ‘one of’, not ‘arguably’, but the Best.” — Time

Described as his “most wryly and disturbing collection yet”, Tenth of December is the latest collection of short stories from George Saunders. In one, a family member recollects a backyard pole “dressed for all occasions”, and in another Jeff faces ultimatums and drug trials. Switching from past to future to present, with alacrity and elegance, Saunders charms and unnerves with ultimate grace.

Chair of the Judges for the Folio, Lavinia Greenlaw, said in her announcement:

“George Saunders’s stories are both artful and profound. Darkly playful, they take us to the edge of some of the most difficult questions of our time and force us to consider what lies behind and beyond them. His subject is the human self under ordinary and extraordinary pressure. His worlds are heightened versions of our own, full of inexorable confrontations from which we are not easily released. Unflinching, delightful, adventurous, compassionate, he is a true original whose work is absolutely of the moment. We have no doubt that these stories will prove only more essential in years to come.”

Runners Up

Red Doc, Book, Jonathan Cape, Anne Carson

Red Doc by Anne Carson

Published by Jonathan Cape

In a blend of poetry, drama, and narrative, red-winged Geryon from Autobiography of Red (now ‘G’), moves into manhood, and through to the modern age. He travels with his friend and lover ‘Sad’ (short for Sad But Great), a war veteran, and Ida, an artist, across a geography that ranges from plains of glacial ice to idyllic green pastures; from a psychiatric clinic to the house where G’s mother must face her death. Haunted by Proust, “juxtaposing the hunger for flight with the longing for family and home”, this is a journey of intellect, imagination, and soul.

Schroder, Book, Faber & Faber, Amity Gaige

Schroder by Amity Gaige

Published by Faber & Faber

At a New England summer camp as an adolescent, Erik Schroder – a first generation East German immigrant – adopts a new name and a new persona – Eric Kennedy – hoping to fit in. But the white lie grows. Years later, Eric tries to outrun the authorities amidst a custody battle over his six-year-old daughter, and his wife soon discovers he is not who he says he is. From the 20/20 vision of hindsight in a correctional facility, Eric tries to make sense of his life – and perhaps to explain his actions.

Last Friends, Book, Little Brown, Jane Gardam

Last Friends by Jane Gardam

Published by Little, Brown

The final volume of a trilogy (Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat) that tells the story of Old Filth QC (master of the Hong Kong law courts), and his wife Betty, Last Friends picks up with Terence Veneering, Filth’s great rival. The son of a Russian acrobat and a local girl in North-East England, he is treated with suspicion. Veneering, Filth and co. tell a story of love and friendship, a now-past Empire and aging.

Benediction, Book, Picador, Kent Haruf

Benediction by Kent Haruf

Published by Picador

It is Dad Lewis’ last summer, and his friends and family try to make him as comfortable as possible. Next door, a troubled girl moves in with her grandmother, and in town Reverend Rob Lyle attempts to mend broken relationships. Benediction explores the nuances, heartbreak and compassion of humanity.

The Flamethrowers, Book, Harvill Secker, Rachel Kushner

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

Published by Harvill Secker

New York, 1977. Reno, arriving on her motorcycle, falls in with a bohemian clique downtown and finds herself immersed in art, sensuality and danger. A passionate affair takes her to Milan, and the radical left, and violence and betrayal. In this novel, Kushner “explores the perplexing allure of femininity, fakery and fear.”

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Book, Galley Beggar Press, Eimear McBride

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Published by Galley Beggar Press

In this stream-of-consciousness narration, we are confronted by a shocking and intimate insight in to the inner world of a vulnerable protagonist, tasked with caring for her brother as he lives with the after-effects of a brain tumour.

A Naked Singularity, Book, Maclehose Editions, Sergio De La Pava

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Published by Maclehose Editions

Casi is a public defender on the front line of America’s War on Drugs. With wit, insight and dazzling complexity, Casi is a smart and prideful narrator, and his navigation of the miseries of the New York Justice System are sure to bring him down a peg or two.

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