The Rathbones Folio prize 2021 shortlist represent some of the greatest literature to be published recently.
handiwork – Sara Baume (Tramp Press)
handiwork is a contemplative short narrative from acclaimed writer and visual artist Sara Baume. It offers observations at once gentle and devastating, on the nature of art, grief and a life lived well.
Sara Baume’s work first appeared in newspapers and journals such as the Irish Times, the Guardian, The Stinging Fly and Granta. She won the 2014 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award for ‘SoleSearcher1’, and went on to receive the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, the Rooney Prize for Literature and an Irish Book Award for Best Newcomer in 2015. Her debut novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Warwick Prize for Writing, the Desmond Elliott Prize for New Fiction and the International Dublin Literary Award. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. In autumn 2015, she was a participant in the International Writing Program run by the University of Iowa and received a Literary Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Indelicacy – Amina Cain (Daunt Books)
A ghostly feminist fable about class, desire, friendship, and the battle to find one’s true calling.
Amina Cain’s Indelicacy was an Editor’s Choice at the New York Times and a New York Public Library Best Book of the Year. She is the author of two collections of stories: Creature and I Go To Some Hollow, and her fiction and essays have appeared in publications such as Granta, BOMB, n+1, and The Paris Review Daily. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, writer Amarnath Ravva, where she is finishing work on a book about the space of reading and writing fiction, tentatively entitled A Horse at Night.
As You Were – Elaine Feeney (Harvill Secker)
One of the most buzzed-about Irish debuts of 2020: a novel for our times.
Elaine Feeney has published three collections of poetry, Where’s Katie?, The Radio was Gospel, Rise, and a drama piece, WRoNGHEADED, commissioned by Liz Roche Company. She teaches at The National University of Ireland, Galway and St Jarlath’s College. Her work has been widely published and anthologised in Poetry Review, The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Copper Nickel, Stonecutter Journal and others. As You Were is her fiction debut.
Poor – Caleb Femi (Penguin)
Lyrical, heart-breaking and hopeful, the Peckham poet’s debut collection celebrating the lives of young black boys and the architecture that shapes them.
Caleb Femi is a poet and director featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. He has written and directed short films commissioned by the BBC and Channel 4 and poems by the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature, St Paul’s Cathedral, the BBC, the Guardian and many more. Between 2016-2018, Caleb was the Young People’s Laureate for London. He wrote the liner material for Kano’s 2019 album, ‘Hoodies All Summer’ and was the face of the 2019 Mulberry Christmas advert. Poor is his first book.
My Darling from the Lions – Rachel Long (Picador)
Each poem in Rachel Long’s critically acclaimed debut collection, My Darling from the Lions, has a vivid story to tell – of family quirks, the perils of dating, the grip of religion or sexual awakening – stories that are emotionally insightful, politically conscious, wise, funny and outrageous. Long is a razor-sharp and original voice and here is an immediate, wide-awake poetry that entertains with urgency and remarkable skill.
Rachel Long is a Costa Prize shortlisted poet and founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, which is housed at Southbank Centre, in London. Rachel’s poetry and prose have been published widely, most recently in Filigree, Mal and the White Review. She is Assistant Tutor to Jacob Sam-La Rose on the Barbican Young Poets programme, 2015-present. This year she is a Rathbones Folio mentor.
In the Dream House: A Memoir – Carmen Maria Machado (Serpent’s Tail)
A revolutionary memoir about domestic abuse by the prizewinning author of Her Body and Other Parties.
Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the bestselling memoir In the Dream House and the award-winning short story collection Her Body and Other Parties. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize among others.
Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Vogue, This American Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Tin House, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Guernica, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She lives in Philadelphia and is the Abrams Artist-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.
A Ghost in the Throat – Doireann Ní Ghríofa (Tramp Press)
A devastating and timeless tale about finding your voice by freeing another’s.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a poet and essayist. Her most recent book is the bestseller A Ghost in the Throat, which finds the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective. Doireann is also author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity.
The Mermaid of Black Conch – Monique Roffey (Peepal Tree Press)
A tale of love against the odds, a feminist revision of an old Taino myth, an adventure story set in a small coastal Caribbean village.
Monique Roffey is an award-winning Trinidadian born British writer of novels, essays and a memoir. Her most recent novel, The Mermaid of Black Conch, (Peepal Tree Press) won the Costa Novel Award 2020 as well as the Costa Book of the Year 2020 and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths prize, 2020. Her other novels, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and House of Ashes have been nominated for major awards. Archipelago won the OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature in 2013. She is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and a tutor for the National Writers Centre.