The shortlist for one of the most prestigious literary awards, the 2015 Folio Prize, has been announced with eight respected authors vying for the top prize of £40,000. The award is sponsored by the London-based publisher The Folio Society and is given annually to a book of Fiction in the English language that is published in the UK, but can be written by an author from any country.

The eight writers and their respective books that have been selected on the shortlist this year are:

  • Rachel Cusk for Outline

  • Ben Lerner for 10:04

  • Jenny Offill for Dept. of Speculation

  • Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor for Dust

  • Akhil Sharma for Family Life

  • Ali Smith for How to Be Both

  • Miriam Toews for All My Puny Sorrows

  • Colm Toibin for Nora Webster

It reflects a truly global selection of writers, with Canadians, Americans, an Indian, an Irishman, a Scot and a Kenyan all among the potential winners. 

The inaugural winner, announced in March 2014, was George Saunders for his book entitled Tenth of December.

As in 2014, this year's award will be decided by a jury's decision (called 'the Academy'). The Academy is formed from a group of esteemed authors including Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, A.S. Byatt and J.M. Coetzee.

Potential books to be included on the shortlist have previously been nominated by members of the Academy and added to by an additional twenty determined by the publishers themselves. The much longer list of around eighty titles so generated was then whittled down by the Academy, who judged the eight titles (listed) as the ones from which the winner will be selected (also to be judged by the Academy).

Interestingly, the select group that comprises the Academy includes previous Booker Prize winners, yet the relatively new award only came into being itself as a result of a perception held by some learned observers in Britain, that the Booker Prize was favouring popular fiction over literary fiction.

The Folio Prize is an attempt to redress the balance, hence it being seen by some as a rival to the more famous and established award The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which dates back as far as 1968.