Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04, has been shortlisted for The Folio Prize 2015.
Sponsored by The Folio Society, celebrated publisher of beautiful editions of the world’s greatest books, the prize recognises the best English-language fiction from around the world, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin.
Announcing the shortlist at the British Library, Chair of Judges William Fiennes, said:
“This shortlist is the result of months of reading and hours of passionate conversation. The eight books we’ve chosen explore vast themes – time, loss, belonging, war, solitude, marriage and family, the making and the mystery of art – with amazing vitality and grace.
“They manage to be both epic and intimate – in fact, they show those dimensions to be two sides of the same coin. They’ve surprised, moved, challenged and enchanted us. They’ve made us laugh. They’ve grown and deepened when we read them again.
“But it’s not just the richness and fire of the individual books. We’re excited by the range of ideas, voices and approaches represented here, and by the way our shortlist shows the novel refreshing itself, reaching out for new shapes and strategies, still discovering what it might be, what it might do.”
In the past year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child. Now, in a New York of increasingly frequent superstorms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water.
In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called ‘hilarious… cracklingly intelligent… and original in every sentence’, Lerner’s new novel charts an exhilarating course through the contemporary landscape of sex, friendship, memory, art and politics, and captures what is like to be alive right now.
The shortlisted titles are:
10:04 by Ben Lerner (Granta)
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Faber)
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Granta)
Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta)
Family Life by Akhil Sharma (Faber)
How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín (Viking)
Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber)