The shortlist for Britain’s oldest literary awards has been announced and features a fascinating blend of books by emerging talent and award winning authors.
Biographies of HRH Princess Margaret – the Queen’s sister – and legendary boxer and activist Muhammad Ali are contenders for the James Tait Black Prizes. They feature alongside works on the life and work of the revered novelist Joseph Conrad and a heart-rending memoir of a tragic family holiday.
The four biographies competing for the £10,000 prize are:
- The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard (Harvill Secker)
- Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown (4th Estate)
- Ali, A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster)
- The Dawn Watch, Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff (William Collins).
Biography judge, Dr Jonathan Wild, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh said:
It has been an outstanding year for biography writing as these shortlisted books eloquently testify.
The four novels competing for the £10,000 fiction prize are:
- American War by Omar El Akkad, (Picador)
- White Tears by Hari Kunzru, (Hamish Hamilton)
- First Love by Gwendoline Riley (Granta)
- Attrib by Eley Williams (Influx Press).
Fiction judge, Dr Alex Lawrie, also of School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh said:
The books on this year’s shortlist are experimental, thoughtful, and provocative. Together they represent the very best that fiction has to offer.
More than 400 books were read by academics and postgraduate students for the University’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, who nominated books for the shortlist. The winners of the Prizes will be announced on Sat 18 August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
James Tait Black Awards
The James Tait Black Awards are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures – the oldest centre for the study of English Literature in the world, established in 1762. More than 400 books were read by University of Edinburgh academics and postgraduate students, who nominated books for the shortlist. A unique aspect of the prizes is that they are judged entirely by university English scholars and postgraduate literature students.
The prizes were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books. In 2012, a third prize category was announced for Drama, with the first winner of this award announced in August 2013.