The Publishing Post
2023 Rathbones Folio Prize Winners Announced
By Georgia Appleyard, Olivia Ek and Conor Hodges
Margo Jefferson’s Constructing a Nervous System has been announced as the winner of the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize Book of the Year.
The prize was announced at a ceremony at the British Library on Monday, 27 March. Under the new prize structure, the three category winners in Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry were first presented, followed by the Book of the Year award. Alongside Jefferson's Non-Fiction win, Victoria Adukwei Bulley wins the Poetry category with her debut collection, Quiet and Michelle de Kretser wins the Fiction category for Scary Monsters. While working with different genres and from different continents, the three winners share their “sharp focus on form, racial integrity, identity, and selfhood.”
The 2023 Book of the Year, Margo Jefferson’s Constructing a Nervous System, is a blend of memoir and literary criticism that seeks to connect the disparate parts that form us. It was praised by the judges as “a brilliant blast of responsive energy” that “remakes culture, redresses history, renews and repurposes everything it touches,” and it is this energetic self-reflection that set this title apart this year.
The Poetry prize was awarded to rising star Victoria Adukwei Bulley for her debut poetry collection Quiet (Faber). The judges aptly described the work as “a quiet revolution of a book - subtle, supple and serious,” which “brings Adukwei Bulley fully-formed, starting something!”
Sri Lankan novelist Michelle de Kretser took home the Fiction prize for Scary Monsters (Allen & Unwin), which the judges described as “a work of beautifully composed genius,” and “a book that troubles and disquiets, dazzles and delights, and with lively wit and intelligence.”
The shortlisted authors, publishers, agents, booksellers and writers convened at the British Library for the ceremony in one of the biggest prize ceremonies since lockdown. Margo Jefferson now joins Colm Tóibín, Carmen Maria Machado and Valeria Luiselli as a prize winner, and is the first winner of the new prize structure.
Follow the link below to stay up to date with news regarding the prize and learn more about the diverse range of authors that the prize has spotlighted.
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