Rathbones Folio Prize 2018 Shortlist

The following eight books were short-listed for the Rathbones Folio Prize. The winner was Richard Lloyd Parry, for Ghosts of The Tsunami.


Anything Is Possible Elizabeth Strout (Viking)

Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others. It tells the story of the inhabitants of rural, dusty Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer who finally returns, after seventeen years of absence, to visit the siblings she left behind. Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors.

Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney (Faber)

Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions. In person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. At the heart of it all is twenty-one year-old Frances, bringing us this tale of a complex ménage-à-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man. Conversations with Friends is a romantic comedy and a feminist text; a novel about intimacy, infidelity, and the possibility of love.

Exit West – Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace – or at least not yet openly at war – two young people notice one another. They share a cup of coffee, a smile, an evening meal. They try not to hear the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions. Exit West is a love story from the eye of the storm. It is a song of hope and compassion. It reaches toward something essential in humankind – something still alive, still breathing, an open hand and a thudding heart under all the rubble and dust.

Ghosts of the Tsunami – Richard Lloyd Parry (Jonathan Cape)

On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of north-east Japan, causing the deaths of over 18,500 people. Even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways. Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo, and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. Ghosts of the Tsunami is the heart-breaking and intimate account of this epic tragedy, told through the personal accounts of those who lived through it.

Once Upon A Time In The East: A Story of Growing Up – Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus)

When Xiaolu Guo is born in 1973, her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack, to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, to a scholarship in Britain. Guo’s stunning tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home.

Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor (4th Estate)

In the hills at the heart of England a teenage girl has gone missing. The villagers join the search, police set up roadblocks, and a crowd of news reporters descends. The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

The Day That Went Missing – Richard Beard (Harvill Secker)

On a family summer holiday in Cornwall in 1978, Nicholas and his brother Richard are jumping in the waves. Suddenly, Nicky is out of his depth. He isn’t, and then he is. He drowns. Incredibly, the family soon stop speaking of the catastrophe, an epic act of collective denial which writes Nicky out of the family memory. Nearly forty years later, Richard Beard is haunted by the missing grief of his childhood. The Day That Went Missing is a memoir of exceptional power and universal relevance – about loss, carrying on, and recovering a brother’s life and death.

White Tears – Hari Kunzru (Hamish Hamilton)

New Yorkers Carter and Seth chop up old music to make it new again, ripping off black culture to line white pockets. But one day they stumble on an old blues song – an undiscovered gem – and land themselves in a heap of trouble. Electrifying, subversive and wildly original, White Tears is a ghost story and a love story, a story about lost innocence and historical guilt. It penetrates the heart of a nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge and exploitation, and holding a mirror up to the true nature of America today.