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British Library to Host Event with Rathbones Folio Prize 2023 Authors and Judges

By Georgia Appleyard, Olivia Ek and Conor Hodges


The British Library is hosting a new event, titled How to Make a Story Work, with the Rathbone Folio Prize 2023 shortlisted authors and the prize’s judges. The prize, which was established in 2013, has changed its structure this year to feature non-fiction and poetry alongside fiction. In line with this widened scope, the shortlisted authors will be joined by the judges in a conversation about the many types of stories being told today.


The Judges


This year’s chair of judges, Ali Smith, is a novelist and her works, including her Seasons Quartet series, have previously been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the Man Booker and the Booker Prize. Her most recent novel, Companion Piece, came out in 2022.


Smith is joined by Jackie Kay, who was the third modern Makar, Scottish poet laureate, between 2016 and 2021. Her works include the novel Trumpet and the memoir, Red Dust Road. Kay is a Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.


The judges are rounded off by novelist Guy Gunaratne. Their first novel, In Our Mad and Furious City, won the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Between 2019–2022 Gunaratne was appointed Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. Their second novel, Mister, Mister, will be published this year.


This Year’s Shortlisted Writers:


Daisy Hildyard’s essay The Second Body was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017. Her debut novel, Hunters in the Snow, came out in 2013 and received the Somerset Maugham Award and a 5 under 35 honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. She is shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize for fiction for her novel Emergency, which explores the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth. She lives in York with her family.


Fiona Benson lives in Devon with her husband and their two daughters. She has published two previous collections which were both shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize: Bright Travellers, which won the 2015 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and Vertigo & Ghost, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize. She is shortlisted once again this year for her poetry collection Ephemeron.


Darren McGarvey, aka rapper LOKI, grew up in Pollok. He was part of the Poverty Truth Commission hosted in Glasgow, and has presented BBC Scotland programmes exploring the root causes of social deprivation. His bestselling and acclaimed first book Poverty Safari was awarded the Orwell Prize. His book The Social Distance Between Us is a scathing critique of British politics and is shortlisted for the Rathbone Folio Prize.


Victoria Adukwei Bulley is a poet, writer and artist. An alumna of the Barbican Young Poets, she is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, and has held residence in the US, Brazil, and the V&A Museum in London. Her debut poetry collection Quiet is shortlisted for the Rathbone Folio Prize. She is currently a doctoral student at Royal Holloway, University of London, supported by the Techne award for practice-based research in Creative Writing.


Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British-born, Barbadian-raised poet, dancer and choreographer, as well as a PhD student at the University of Leeds. She is an Obsidian Foundation fellow and an Apples & Snakes/Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance recipient. Her work has appeared in journals including Poetry London, Poetry Review, Caribbean Writer and Wasafiri. She is shortlisted for Cane, Corn & Gully, a unique fusion of poetry and choreography.


Jonathan Freedland is a Guardian columnist and former foreign correspondent. He was named Columnist of the Year in 2002, Commentator of the Year in 2016 and won an Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2014. He has written nine thrillers under the name Sam Bourne, including The Righteous Men, a Sunday Times bestseller. His book, The Escape Artist, is shortlisted for the non-fiction prize and recounts the first escape from Auschiwitz.


Will Ashon is the author of two novels and two works of non-fiction, Strange Labyrinth and Chamber Music: About the Wu-Tang (in 36 Pieces). Ashon founded the record label Big Dada Recordings, which he ran for over fifteen years. He lives in London. His book, The Passengers, weaves together a tapestry of British lives, and is shortlisted for the prize for non-fiction.


Zaffar Kunial lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. His debut collection, US, was shortlisted for a number of prizes. He was a 2022 recipient of the Yale University Windham-Campbell Prize. England’s Green, shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize for poetry, is his second book.


Yomi Sode is an award-winning Nigerian British writer. He is a recipient of the 2019 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship and was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2021. He is the founder of BoxedIn, First Five, The Daddy Diaries and mentorship programme 12 in 12. His powerful collection Manorism made the 2023 shortlist for Rathbones Folio Prize for poetry.


The event will take place this Sunday, 26 March at 6 p.m. at the British Library in London. It will not be live-streamed and attendees are advised to arrive no later than fifteen minutes before the event is due to start.


Ticket prices range from £5–10, and you can book them by following this link. For more information about the event, check here.


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