An appealing mix of books illuminating themes such as gender, identity and race form the shortlist for the centenary awards of Britain’s longest-running literary prizes, announced today.
Contenders for the James Tait Black Prizes include a novel inspired by computing science pioneer Alan Turing and a debut novel about a woman’s journey into motherhood (Sight). The other nominated titles are a book about personal relationships in the midst of political turmoil, and a collection of short stories exploring black identity in America.
The four novels competing for the £10,000 fiction prize are: Murmur by Will Eaves (CB Editions); Sight by Jessie Greengrass (John Murray); Crudo by Olivia Laing (Picador); and Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Chatto & Windus).
Fiction judge Dr Alex Lawrie, of the University of Edinburgh, said of the shortlist: “These four books are stylish, witty, and experimental. I’m thrilled that in this centenary year our shortlist reflects the very best that fiction can offer.”
The annual Prizes have been presented every year since 1919 – surviving two world wars, evolving technology and changing reading habits. The James Tait Black Prizes are distinctive in the way that they are judged. Each year the books are considered by senior staff from English Literature at the University, assisted by a reading panel of postgraduate students.