The Folio Prize Shortlist 2013; What Do We All Think Then?

This afternoon the inaugural Folio Prize, which was the prize that the Folio ‘Academy’ started after the Man Booker was deemed too readable (is that a bad thing really?), unleashed its first ever shortlist and it’s a rather interesting bunch…

  • Red Doc – Anne Carson
  • Schroder – Amity Gaige
  • Last Friends – Jane Gardam
  • Benediction – Kent Haruf
  • The Flamethrowers – Rachel Kushner
  • A Girl is a Half Formed Thing – Eimear McBride
  • A Naked Singularity – Sergio De La Pava
  • Tenth of December – George Saunders

Now amazingly I had heard of all of them bar one, which is Red Doc by Anne Carson and is poetry so would be why it might be off my radar as I am not known for my poetry prowess. Amazingly I have also read one of them, A Girl is a Half Formed Thing is an incredible debut by Eimear McBride (who you can hear talking to me about it on You Wrote The Book) which is unlike any book I have ever read or am likely to read again. It’s a marvel.

The rest of the list I have all heard of. Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers has had a rather mixed response, people either saying it is the best thing ever or saying its completely overrated, I haven’t bothered with it shamefully because I don’t like either of the covers and think it has motorcycling in it which makes me inwardly groan. Maybe I should look into it more? Another book I was sent and didn’t read was Amity Gaige’s Schroder which I have no real reason for not reading, I think the cover (again, sorry) put me off as it looked like it might be a heart breaking tale of a child being abused or a father losing his daughter – no idea why the cover makes me think that but it does. Another to possibly find out more about?

Jane Gardam and George Saunders are two authors I have heard wonderful, wonderful things about and have been meaning to read so I might just get my mitts on those in the next few weeks. I also own two of the other books which I have kept to read at some point. A Naked Singularity I do have on my shelves and am rather fascinated by because no one would publish it for ages, then it did quite well self-published before a small press did and then it exploded. I have held off because it’s HUGE, like mammoth, so maybe a book to take on holiday. Kent Haruf is an author I have heard the most wonderful, wonderful, wonderful things about and have three of his books which make the trilogy that Benediction finished so I am going to dig out Plainsong and read that pronto. I am not sure I will read all three before the winner is announced, but then again I am not sure when that is from all the reports I have read… so maybe I will, ha!

So what are your thoughts on the Folio Prize Shortlist 2014? Do you think it knocks ‘readability’ on its head? Which ones have you read and what did you think? Which should I make sure I read? Any thoughts on who will win? I have fingers crossed for Eimear as I think everyone should read that book! Let me know your thoughts.


Filed under Folio Prize

11 responses to “The Folio Prize Shortlist 2013; What Do We All Think Then?

  1. claireking9

    I have only read one of the eight, George Saunders. It’s an absolutely dazzling collection, certainly my book of 2013 and possibly my favourite book of short stories of all time. I raved about it to everyone. It is eminently readable. Astonishing in it’s clever simplicity. I’ll take your advice and try the Eimear McBride.

  2. I haven’t read or heard of any of these books unfortunately, but awards like these always give me the chance to discover new authors/books. I’ve definitely got some to add to my TBR now!

  3. It’s always refreshing to have an ‘alternative’ list rather than just the big names or the ones pushed by pubishers/PR/reviewers. Having said that, I haven’t read any on the list except A Naked Singularity. Well, when I say read I mean ‘attempted to read it twice, quite liked the first bit but then it got too long-winded and samey so I abandoned it’.

  4. I’ve only read the McBride (a wonderful book) but have most of the rest on my TBR. I’m delighted to see Jane Gardam on this list — she’s such an under-appreciated writer. And three cheers for Kent Haruf! 🙂

  5. The Tenth of December was my book of last year. Really remarkable. Eimear McBride is on my TBR but is moving to the top!

  6. David

    I’ve read only two – Benediction is as lovely as you’d expect from Kent Haruf (though perhaps not quite as brilliant as Plainsong); but I really didn’t rate George Saunders’s collection: the first and last stories were really good but in between those was a lot of style-over-substance and a lack subtlety, all told in the same really grating voice. I have a copy of Schroder so I might get to that soon.

  7. Somehow the shortlist completely passed me by, thank goodness you are here to keep me up to date. (This might be because I read blogs before I check the mainstream news…naughty). I think it looks interesting, but somehow not as interesting as I thought it might. I haven’t read any and my reactions are very like yours. Really fancy the Haruf and Saunders and Gardam. The only one I have is Schroeder, which I had pegged as a father/daughter angst novel. Perhaps I’ll give it a try now though.

  8. gaskella

    I too have Shroder but haven’t read it. Love Gardam and Saunders but haven’t read either of these, and would love to read Haruf soon … It’s an interesting list though – hope the Booker list is different.

  9. Jon

    I loved Last Friends – such a warm and clever book. Schroder was OK, but I found the narrator’s voice unconvincing and uninvolving. It didn’t move me as I hoped it would.

  10. I’ve been staying away from The Flame Throwers for exactly the same reason as you – the covers!! Why is this? We are intelligent people. We should be able to get past a bad cover. Oh yeah, the motorcycles…

  11. Rather expected list most books have had lot buzz round them only read a naked singularity which would be a winner for me

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