Rathbones Folio Prize

The Rathbones Folio Prize is awarded to the best new work of literature published in the English language in a given year, regardless of genre. Uniquely, the books selected for consideration, the shortlist and the winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize are all chosen by writers and critics.

The winner for the inaugural Rathbones Folio Prize 2017 was announced as Hisham Matar for  THE RETURN; Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, at a prestigious ceremony at the British Library on 24 May. His book has been hailed as a profound and powerful memoir of his search, both physical and psychological, for his missing father.

In his acceptance speech Hisham shared that ‘we have always needed the complexities, the depth and distance that literature introduces into our lives; perhaps we have never needed them more.’

The three judges, Ahdaf Soueif, Lucy Hughes-Hallett and Rachel Holmes, met on the morning of the announcement to decide the winning book, admitting after the decision that every single book on the shortlist was a strong contender. The eight book shortlist was have chosen an exhilaratingly, diverse range of books, composed of four novels and four works of non-fiction, written by five women and four men, and published by eight different publishing houses. These were:

The Vanishing Man - Laura Cumming

The Return - Hisham Matar

This Census-Taker - China Miéeville

The Return - Hisham Matar

The Sport of Kings - C E Morgan

The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson

Golden Hill – Francis Spufford

Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien

The Burning Country - Syrians in Revolution & War.  Robin Yassin- Kassab and Leila Al-Sham.

The winner will be awarded at a ceremony at the British Library on 24 May.

The Folio Prize was awarded in 2014 and 2015 and paused in 2016 while a long-term partner was sought to support the prize as well as a widened programme. We are delighted to be able to provide that support, to ensure the continuation of the Prize and the introduction of new literary initiatives.

We are involved not just because of the prize but also to help bring to life the important work of the Folio Academy. The Academy is a growing community of esteemed authors including the likes of Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey, J.M. Coetzee, Ian McEwan and Zadie Smith, who value and are committed to the development of literature and literacy. There is no equivalent body of international writers anywhere in the world. The programmes that we will be supporting include the Rathbones Mentoring Programme (supporting young teen writers with the charity First Story) and a number of Rathbones Folio Lectures at literary festivals around the country.

‘The Folio Prize is not a mechanism just for generating publicity by propelling a single book into the spotlight but a celebration of literature as a whole."  Mark Haddon, author

‘A prize that relies on the assessment of other writers is unique. Perhaps the fine opinion of one's peers is more valuable than the approval of editors and corporate higher-ups. Those cultural gate-keepers merely follow trends; writers forge them.’ Lionel Shriver, author and journalist

For more information and upcoming events, visit rathbonesfolioprize.com