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American, women authors dominate shortlist of new Folio Prize

By Julia Fioretti

LONDON (Reuters) - American and female authors dominated the inaugural shortlist of a new literary award, the Folio Prize, which was unveiled on Monday.

The award is "the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world", according to sponsor the Folio Society.

The shortlist of eight works features five books by U.S. writers and five female authors. The titles were chosen by a panel of judges who pored through 80 English-language books published in Britain by authors from around the world.

The selected works are a mix of novels, poetry and short stories.

Those by American authors were "A Naked Singularity" by Sergio De La Pava, "Schroder" by Amity Gaige, "Benediction" by Kent Haruf, "The Flame Throwers" by Rachel Kushner and "Tenth of December" by George Saunders.

Irish author Eimear McBride was shortlisted for her novel "A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing" while the remaining two authors on the list were Canadian Anne Carson for her verse-novel "Red Doc" and British Jane Gardam with the novel "Last Friends".

The winner stands to receive a prize of 40,000 pounds ($65,500) at the ceremony in London on March 10.

"The shortlist we've arrived at is one of which we're proud," said Lavinia Greenlaw, chairwoman of the judges and a poet, novelist and critic.

"Our deliberations were long and intense. We forgot about the authors and focused on the books. Only when we surfaced with our chosen eight in hand did we reflect on what they collectively represent: the art of fiction at full stretch and in all its forms, and the ingenious and dazzling results of form under exquisite pressure."

The sponsor of the prize, the Folio Society, is a publisher of illustrated books.

"They (the judges) were asked to disregard nationality, ethnicity, gender and lifetime achievement and to concentrate solely on the words on the pages in front of them," said Folio Prize founder Andrew Kidd.

"Thrillingly, that's exactly what they did."

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Pravin Char)

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