Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House Wins The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021


Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House is a breathtakingly inventive, unflinchingly honest examination of domestic abuse in a female relationship, in which Machado breaks down the idea of what the memoir form can do and be – and bravely approaches a subject for which literary treatment has been extremely rare.

Roger Robinson said: “Carmen Maria Machado documents, in great detail, the descent of lives into obsessiveness, possession and, eventually, abuse amongst the queer community in which this is not often documented in literature. This already makes this book substantial. But it is its challenging of memoir form that is even more impressive. Machado breaks it down into short, sharp vignettes, written in impeccable prose, and mixes up the timeline. As the reader, In the Dream House gives me a feeling of traumatic fragmentation, so you have that constant tension as to what might be revealed next, like a veritable house of horror ride.”

Sinéad Gleeson said: “Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House is an exceptional, important book. It takes everything a reader expects from a memoir, and upends and deconstructs it, playing with the possibilities of the form. Machado explores queerness, domestic violence and bodies in a multi-genre masterpiece, told in taut, stunning prose.”

Jon McGregor said: “In the Dream House is a compelling memoir, a striking piece of storytelling, and a work of art. This is my story, Carmen Maria Machado tells us, and it needs to be heard. I loved the way she moves through a range of forms in order to view the story from different angles, using language to hold a hidden experience up to the light. In the Dream House has changed me – expanded me – as a reader and a person, and I’m not sure how much more we can ask of the books that we choose to celebrate. I’m honoured to play a part in awarding this book the Rathbones Folio Prize 2021.”

Read the full press release here.

Watch the Prize Ceremony

The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 Ceremony, hosted from the British Library by Razia Iqbal, features the shortlisted authors alongside the judges Roger Robinson, Jon McGregor and Sinéad Gleeson.

In the lead up to the big announcement, meet the eight shortlisted authors as they discuss their books and writing processes and hear from the judges, Roger Robinson, Jon McGregor and Sinéad Gleeson, who had the task of selecting just one winner from 80 nominated titles.

BBC Radio 4 Front Row Announcement

Click here to listen to Carmen Maria Machado live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row speaking about winning The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021.

Carmen Maria Machado Wins Rathbones Folio Prize for Queer Abuse Memoir


Click here to read The Guardian article on Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House winning The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021.


The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 Shortlist


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.

Watch the full Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 Shortlist Announcement Event below


The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 Judges


The T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Roger Robinson, the Irish writer, editor and broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson and novelist and short story writer Jon McGregor.

Roger Robinson, chair won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2019 and RSL Ondaatje Prize in 2020 and is currently on the shortlist for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry. He has performed all over the world and was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the Black-British writing can- on. His latest collection‘A Portable Paradise’ was a ‘New Statesman’ Book of the Year. As well as leading workshops and touring extensively with the British Council he is lead vocalist and lyricist for King Midas Sound and has recorded solo albums.

Sinead Gleeson was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2020 with Constellations: Reflections from Life which won the Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards and the 2020 Dalkey Literary Award. Her short stories have appeared in a number of collections and she is the editor of four anthologies of short stories, most recently published The Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish Short Stories. She is now working on a novel.

Jon McGregor is the author of four novels and a story collection and has been shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018. He has been longlisted for the Booker prize three times and his books have won a Betty Trask Prize, a Somerset Maugham Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. He was named 2002 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2002 and in 2010, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nottingham. His new book, Lean Fall Stand, will be published in 2021.

Win the Complete Set of the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize Shortlist

To enter, follow @TheTLS and @RathbonesFolio, RT and tag someone who might also like to enter.

The competitition closes midnight at 23:59:59 GMT on Wednesday 17 March 2021. For the full terms and conditions, click here.

Book Free Tickets for the Prize Ceremony 2021

Book your free tickets and join us for the online live announcement of the Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 Winner, taking place on Wednesday 24 March 2021, 18:45-19:30.

As we build up to the big moment, you will meet the eight shortlisted authors as they discuss their books and writing processes and hear from the judges, Roger Robinson, Jon McGregor and Sinéad Gleeson, who had the task of selecting just one winner from 80 nominated titles.

Click here to book tickets. 

Dystopian Fiction Event – Novels of the Future

Watch the riveting literary conversation with best-selling authors Kamila Shamsie and John Lanchester on writing dystopian fiction. BBC news and former arts correspondent Razia Iqbal hosted the event, talking to John and Kamila on how COVID-19 might change the narrative of future novels and how their work reflects the society we live in today. Click here to watch the event.

Marie Curie 'Carols in the City at home' Event

Sponsored by Rathbones, Marie Curie held its first virtual carol concert for Marie Curie hospice care, ‘Carols in the City at home’. For this special event, Rathbones Folio Prize Administrator, Asima Qayyum, wrote a festive poem, ‘Pakistani Praise Song for an English Christmas’. Watch the full concert here to listen to readings from stars of stage and screen Rosamund Pike, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Bonneville and Pippa Bennett Warner along with host Jim Carter OBE.

Raymond Antrobus Awarded An MBE

Rathbones Folio Prize 2019 winner and current mentorship mentor, Raymond Antrobus, has been awarded an MBE for services to literature in the New Year’s Honours list! Raymond said his work aims to work against the stigmatisation of people living with disabilities: “As a mixed race Black, hard of hearing kid from Hackney, who came out of state run ‘special educational needs units’, I hope the narrative that is promoted with my acceptance of an MBE for my contribution to English language literature offers inspiration and a call to action.” (Hackney Gazette).

‘Books That Helped Us Through This Year’ series


Reading recommendation from Folio Academy members.


The Rathbones Folio Prize 2021 Mentors


Raymond Antrobus, Kathryn Maris, Paul Farley and Rachel Long confirmed as mentors for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Mentorship programme.

Raymond Antrobus, winner of the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize and the Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year among other prizes, for his debut collection The Perseverance.

Kathryn Maris is a creative writing teacher and a poet. She is the recipient of several awards, including an Academy of American Poets Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Yaddo.

The multi award-winning poet and non-fiction writer Paul Farley, who chaired the judges of this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize.

Leader of the Octavia Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, Rachel Long, author of the widely acclaimed My Darling from the Lions, shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

The scheme pairs four outstanding students from disadvantaged backgrounds with four mentors, who are members of The Folio Academy, for one-to-one creative writing tutoring over the course of a year.

Read the full press release here.


A Bright Future for the Rathbones Folio Prize


We’re delighted to announce an expanded partnership with our sponsors Rathbones Investment Management, which secures the future of the Prize, Mentorships and Sessions until at least 2023. The renewed and significantly increased sponsorship by Rathbones not only enables us to step up our charitable objectives, it also means that the value of the Prize has increased, with the winner set to receive a cheque for £30,000.

Rathbones Folio Prize Timeline 2021

Click here to book your free ticket for the Prize Ceremony 2021 on Wednesday 24 March 2021.

See details of the 2021 Prize timeline and all the information surrounding it here.

About The Academy

The character and qualities of the prize are shaped by The Folio Prize Academy, an international group of people, primarily writers and critics, who are immersed in the world of books. The Academy will play a decisive role in selecting titles to be considered for the shortlist, and each year…

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