NetGalley goes to the Folio Prize!
It sometimes felt like the whole of literary London was gathered in one opulent ballroom last night, as the second Folio Prize Awards ceremony was held at the St Pancras Hotel. Already this is a prize that feels like it has become an integral part of the fiction-world’s year – and the diversity and excellence of the shortlist gave the evening a touch of spice. There was genuine interest in the decision as no one could predict which way it was going to go. Jenny Offill’s The Dept of Speculation seemed to be the favourite in the room, but there was certainly no consensus – until William Fiennes, chair of judges, eventually announced Akhil Sharma as the winner of the 2015 Folio Prize for Fiction.
His novel, Family Life, was a surprising winner in many ways: on the surface, perhaps the most conventional of the eight shortlisted titles; also the bookmakers’ outside bet – with Colm Toibin and Ben Lerner the front runners. Yet the award was greeted with enthusiasm by many, and Akhil Sharma’s acceptance speech – in which he thanked his editors for allowing him to be nine years late in delivering his novel – showcased his self-deprecating and touching wit.
Family Life is a worthy winner of a prize devoted to excellence in fiction. It is moving, touching and subtly written – a quiet book, but one that sears into the memory. Based on the true story of Sharma’s brother’s accident and his subsequent need for round the clock care, it is a nuanced and poignant story of immigration and family, of home and otherness.
The novelist Nikesh Shukla has been one of Family Life’s biggest proponents. Asked why, he said: ‘I’ve been banging on about this book for a year now. It’s a masterful work in its conciseness. It does everything you expect a novel to do, in a surprising and challenging way. It is one of the best pieces of work about the children of immigration ever written. It’s nice to see a book about me prove to be world-beating.’
NetGalley has been proud to partner with the Folio Prize throughout the whole judging process – and we couldn’t be happier with the result. We can’t wait for next year!