Nobel winner in running for book prize

A Nobel laureate, a physicist and a former Pakistan Air Force pilot are on the shortlist for Britain’s oldest book award.

American author Toni Morrison, Scots writer Andrew Crumey, and a first novel by Mohammed Hanif from Pakistan have been nominated for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.

Also shortlisted are Irish author Sebastian Barry and English writer and critic Adam Mars-Jones.

Biography contenders

Contenders for the £10,000 biography prize include fascinating accounts of playwright Arthur Miller, 19th century Shakespearean actors Ellen Terry and Henry Irving.

Along with detailed accounts on the lives of painter Marc Chagall, Columbian novelist Gabriel Garcìa Márquez, and socialist pioneer and advocate of sexual freedom, Edward Carpenter.

The prizes, whose 90th anniversary is celebrated this year, are awarded annually by the University for the best work of fiction and the best biography published during the previous year.

The novels and biographies competing for the £10,000 prizes are:

Fiction shortlist

  • Sputnik Caledonia by Andrew Crumey
  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison
  • The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
  • Pilcrow by Adam Mars-Jones

Biography shortlist

  • Arthur Miller 1915-1962 by Christopher Bigsby
  • A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families by Michael Holroyd
  • Gabriel Garcìa Márquez: A Life by Gerald Martin
  • Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love by Sheila Rowbotham
  • Chagall: Love and Exile by Jackie Wullschlager

Announcement event

The shortlist announcement was made at Dover House, London.

The winners will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.

There are very fine writers in the line-up this year, with superb story-telling skills and remarkable variety on display. It’s certainly a bumper crop for our ninetieth birthday.

Professor Colin NicholsonSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

James Tait Black Memorial Prizes

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are the only major British book awards judged by scholars and students of literature.

The prizes were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books.