Sally Rooney scores hat-trick with Rathbones Folio Prize nomination

Conversations with Friends joins eight-strong shortlist for £20,000 prize

Sally Rooney: three prize nominations  in a week for her debut novel Conversations with Friends. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Sally Rooney: three prize nominations in a week for her debut novel Conversations with Friends. Photograph Nick Bradshaw


Irish author Sally Rooney has scored a hat-trick of literary prize nominations in less than a week for her debut novel Conversations with Friends, following her shortlisting for the Rathbones Folio prize on Tuesday.

On Monday, she was nominated for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize prize is worth £30,000 (€34,356) and is open to authors aged 39 or under writing in English. On Friday she was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year

Among the eight strong Folio prize shortlist is Richard Lloyd Parry’s non-fiction work, Ghosts Of The Tsunami, which has been described as the definitive book on the earth quake which killed more than 15,000 people and led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Also nominated are Mohsin Hamid’s novel Exit West, a story of love and hope set against the refugee crisis.

Rooney’s Conversations With Friends, which explores high-risk relationships, youth and love, has been widely praised

Five novels and three works of non-fiction from the UK, Ireland, Pakistan, China and North America were chosen from a list of 80, which the Folio Academy deemed to be the best published in the UK in 2017.

Also on the list are Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, Xiaolu Guo’s account of growing up in China, Once Upon A Time In The East, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard, and White Tears by Hari Kunzru.

Previous winners of the prize, which was set up in 2014 as a rival to the Man Booker and to what was perceived at its drift towards popular fiction, include US author George Saunders, Indian-American Akhil Sharma, and British-Libyan writer Hisham Matar.

Judges Kate Summerscale, Nikesh Shukla and Jim Crace said: ”We were startled and delighted that so many valuable and rewarding books could be published in a single year.

“We read a fantastic array of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, and all 80 titles nominated by the academy were genuine contenders.

“The eight books we’ve finally chosen are very different from one another, and they’re all wonderful. Overall, the experience has left us optimistic about the current good health and fine spirit of books in the English-writing and English-reading world.”

The shortlisted books are in contention for the overall prize, which will be awarded at a ceremony at the British Library on May 8th.

Philip Howell, chief executive of Rathbones, said: “The 2018 shortlist for the Rathbones Folio Prize comprises a splendid array of fiction and non-fiction.

“Its quality underscores our aim to bring a diverse range of outstanding writing to readers’ attention, and is one part of a broader ambition to engage people in the unique power of books to enrich lives.

“Our congratulations go to the eight shortlisted authors and we look forward to the announcement of a winner on 8 May.” – PA