Shortlists announced for £10,000 book prizes

Books Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The shortlists for two prestigious book prizes worth £10,000 each have been announced.

Fiction and biography contenders from the last 12 months will vie for this year’s James Tait Black Prizes, presented by the University of Edinburgh every year since 1919, and said to be Britain’s longest-running book award.

The winners will be announced in August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Art.

The awards are the only major British book prizes judged by literature scholars and students, said the University of Edinburgh.

The four books shortlisted for the fiction prize are: Alligator & Other Stories by Dima Alzayat; The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi; A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet; and Lote by Shola von Reinhold.

The four biographies shortlisted are: The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire by Kate Fullagar; A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa; Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture by Sudhir Hazareesingh; and Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit.

Fiction judge Dr Benjamin Bateman said: “These books represent the very best qualities of global anglophone literature – epic, experimental, and engaged with pressing concerns both political and planetary.”

Biography judge Dr Simon Cooke said: “These bold, generous and radiant books expand the reach of life-writing in exhilarating ways: alive to the stakes of shaping life through form and voice, each is uniquely and profoundly attuned to the ways individual lives can resonate powerfully with other lives, other places, other times.”

The prize came into being after Janet Tait Black (nee Coats) – part of the renowned thread-making family J & P Coats – provided in her will for two annual book prizes to be created in memory of her husband, James Tait Black.