Rathbones Folio Prize 2019 Shortlist

The following eight books are short-listed for the Rathbones Folio Prize. The judges are Kate Clanchy, Chloe Aridjis and Owen Sheers. The winner will be announced at a gala ceremony at the British Library on Monday 20 May.


Can You Tolerate This?  Ashleigh Young (Bloomsbury)

Ashleigh Young is the author of the award-winning essay collection Can You Tolerate This?, as well as a critically acclaimed book of poetry, Magnificent Moon. The recipient of a 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize in Nonfiction and an Ockham New Zealand Book Award, among other honours, Ashleigh Young is an editor at Victoria University Press, and teaches creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Crossway – Guy Stagg (Picador)

The Crossway is simultaneously a breathtaking account of a physical journey, a memoir about recovering from mental illness, a meditation on the history of pilgrimage, and an exploration into the lives of contemporary believers.

Guy Stagg was born in 1988 and grew up in Paris, Heidelberg, Yorkshire and London. He read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and on graduating worked in politics. Later he was an assistant comment editor at the Daily Telegraph, and has also written for the New StatesmanMonocle and the Literary Review. In 2013 he walked from Canterbury, via Rome and Istanbul, to Jerusalem. The Crossway, an account of this journey, was a Radio 4 Book of the Week and the Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year 2019. An extract from the book was also shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Award.

Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile – Alice Jolly (Unbound)

As the nineteenth century draws towards a close, Mary Ann Sate, an elderly maidservant, sets out to write her truth: Alice Jolly uses this fictional found memoir to recreate history as seen from a woman’s perspective and to give joyful, poetic voice to the silenced women of the past.

Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. Her memoir Dead Babies and Seaside Towns won the PEN Ackerley Prize 2016. She also won the V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize awarded by the Royal Society of Literature in 2014 for one of her short stories, ‘Ray the Rottweiler’. She has published three novels, What the Eye Doesn’t SeeIf Only You Knew and Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile. She has also written for the GuardianMail on Sunday and the Independent, and broadcast for Radio 4. She lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Milkman – Anna Burns (Faber)

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate silence. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

Anna Burns was born in Belfast and is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Man Booker Prize. Milkman, her third full-length novel, won the Man Booker Prize in 2018 and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2019 and has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Rathbones Folio Prize. She is the author of two other novels, No Bones and Little Constructions, and of the novella, Mostly Hero. No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She is now based in East Sussex.

Ordinary People – Diana Evans (Chatto and Windus)

Set in London to an exhilarating soundtrack, Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and ageing, and the fragile architecture of love between two couples at a moment of reckoning.

Diana Evans is a British author of Nigerian and English descent. Her bestselling novel, 26a, won the inaugural Orange Award for New Writers and the British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year prize. It was also shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel, the Guardian First Book, the Commonwealth Best First Book and the Times/Southbank Show Breakthrough awards, and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Wonder, is currently under option for TV dramatisation. She is a former dancer, and as a journalist and critic has contributed to among others Marie Claire, the Independent, the Guardian, the ObserverThe Times, the TelegraphFinancial Times and Harper’s BazaarOrdinary People is her third novel, and received an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award. She lives in London.

The Perseverance – Raymond Antrobus (Penned in the Margins)

The Perseverance is a book of loss, contested language and praise, where elegies sit alongside meditations on the d/Deaf experience.

Raymond Antrobus is a British-Jamaican poet, performer, editor and educator, born and bred in East London, Hackney. He is one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word education from Goldsmiths University. In 2017 he was awarded 1 of 3 inaugural Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships. Raymond’s poetry has appeared on BBC 2, BBC Radio 4 and The Guardian. He has published two pamphlets, Shapes & Disfigurements Of Raymond Antrobus (Burning Eye, 2012) and To Sweeten Bitter (Outspoken Press, 2017). The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins, 2018) is his first full collection. Ranging across history and continents, Raymond’s debut operates in the spaces in between, with haunting lyrics creating new, hybrid territories.  In 2019 he was nominated for a Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry and in the same year Poet of the London Book Fair. He lives in Hackney.

There There – Tommy Orange (Harvill Secker)

A propulsive, multi-generational story that culminates with searing events of the Big Oakland Powwow, There There is a vital contemporary novel of violence and recovery, identity and power, from a stunning new voice in Native American fiction.

Tommy Orange was born and raised in Oakland, California. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He currently lives in Angels Camp, California. There There is his New York Times-bestselling debut novel.

West – Carys Davies (Granta)

An exquisite novel of wonder and loss set in the early 1800s on the American Frontier, when a widower goes in search of ancient giant creatures, leaving his daughter behind.

Carys Davies’s short stories have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. They have won the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s V S Pritchett Prize, and a Northern Writers’ Award, and her second collection, The Redemption of Galen Pike, won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award 2015.