Book of the Year: Constructing a Nervous System – Margo Jefferson


Category Winners


Non-Fiction: Constructing a Nervous System – Margo Jefferson


Fiction: Scary Monsters – Michelle de Kretser


Poetry: Quiet – Victoria Adukwei Bulley


Constructing a Nervous System By Margo Jefferson

Tessa Hadley





Book cover of Quiet, by Victoria Adukwei Bulley

The Judges said:

Life as a living art. A joyous, moving and inventive read.

The Judges said:

A sublime novel that slips, fascinates and terrifies at once. De Kretser’s Scary Monsters deserves to be read again and again.

The Judges said:

Impresses with its strength and power, its ingenious investigation of inner life, the tensions and surprises within. The book’s quiet balance shook us to the core.

2023 Shortlists


The Passengers

by Will Ashon

In Love

by Amy Bloom

The Escape Artist

by Jonathan Freedland

Constructing a Nervous System

by Margo Jefferson

The Social Distance Between Us

by Darren McGarvey



by NoViolet Bulawayo

Scary Monsters

by Michelle de Kretser

Pure Colour

by Sheila Heti


by Daisy Hildyard

Lucy by the Sea

by Elizabeth Strout



by Victoria Adukwei Bulley


by Fiona Benson

Cane, Corn & Gully

by Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa

England’s Green

by Zaffar Kunial


by Yomi Ṣode


The 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize Judges


Multi award-winning author of novels and short stories Ali Smith (Chair)

Highly acclaimed poet, novelist and non-fiction writer Jackie Kay

Prize-winning novelist Guy Gunaratne

Ali Smith (Chair)

Tessa Hadley

Ali Smith (Chair) is the author of many novels including How to be both, Artful, There but for the, The Accidental, Hotel World, the Seasonal Quartet series and Companion piece. Hotel World and The Accidental were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Bailey’s Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and it was shortlisted for the Folio Prize and Man Booker Prize. Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and Winter was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2018, while Summer won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction in 2021.

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh. She was the third modern Makar, the Scottish poet laureate, from 2016 to 2021. Her first novel, Trumpet, won the Authors’ Club First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. She is also the author of three collections of stories, Why Don’t You Stop Talking, Wish I Was Here, and Reality, Reality; two poetry collections, Fiere and Bantam; a play, The Lamplighter; and her multi-award-winning memoir, Red Dust Road. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and was Chancellor of the University of Salford from 2014 to 2021.

Guy Gunaratne

William Atkins

Guy Gunaratne is a novelist based between London and Malmö. Their first novel In Our Mad and Furious City won the International Dylan Thomas Prize (2019), the Jhalak Prize (2019) and Authors Club Award (2019). It was also shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and longlisted for the Booker Prize, as well as the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Guy was appointed the Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge (2019 – 2022).

Their second novel Mister, Mister will be published 2023.


Rathbones Folio Prize 2022

More than Just a Prize - the Literature Prize Foundation

Our groundbreaking mentorship scheme, run in partnership with First Story,  has worked with dozens of emerging writers from disadvantaged communities since its inception in 2017.

Furthermore, our partnership with UEA allows a Rathbones Folio Prize-winning or shortlisted author to take up a Visiting Fellowship each year; the current fellow is Sunjeev Sahota, shortlisted in 2022 for his novel China Room.


Current Projects

We are working with spinal injuries charity Horatio’s Garden on a writing for wellbeing scheme, while our partnership with the University of Chichester’s Ukrainian Digital Writer in Residence gives a voice in English to eminent Ukrainian author Volodymyr Rafeienko.


Raymond Antrobus, Winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019

About the Rathbones Folio Prize


First awarded in 2014 (originally known as The Folio Prize), the Rathbones Folio Prize is open to all works of literature written in English and published in the UK, and is worth over £30,000. All genres and all forms of literature are eligible, except work written primarily for children.


The Prize is unique in that it is judged by members of the 300-strong Rathbones Folio Academy of esteemed writers and critics.


Prize winners to date are: Tenth of December by George Saunders (2014); Family Life by Akhil Sharma (2015); The Return by Hisham Matar (2017); Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry (2018); The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus (2019, pictured above); Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (2020);  In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (2021); and Colm Tóibín, The Magician (2022).

About Rathbones

We’re delighted to hold an expanded partnership with our sponsors Rathbones Investment Management, which secures the future of the Prize, Mentorships and Sessions until at least 2023. The sponsorship by Rathbones enables us to step up our charitable objectives, while also increasing the value of the Prize, with the overall winner receiving a cheque for £30,000 and category winners receiving £2,000 each.