The James Tait Black Prize, which awards £10,000 to the writer of the best fiction and biography, respectively, has announced their shortlist for 2013. Salman Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton, about his years spent living under a fatwa, was nominated in the biography category, as were Michael Gorra’s Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece, Tanya Harrod’s The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew, Modern Pots, Colonialism and the Counterculture, and Thomas Wright’s Circulation: William Harvey’s Revolutionary Idea. The fiction category nominees include Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon, Kirsty Gunn’s The Big Music, Alan Warner’s The Deadman’s Pedal and Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station. Lerner recently earned the $25,000 runner-up award for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature while Fagan was named to Granta Magazine’s esteemed list of the top 20 young British novelists.
2013 marks the first year the Prize will honor playwrights. The Bookseller reports, the shortlist for the drama category will be announced later this month. The winners of each category will be named in August at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
According to information on the University of Edinburgh’s website, The James Tait Black Awards are the oldest such award in Britain, and awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. The Prize was “founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband’s love of good books,” the website description explains. Every year over 400 books and plays are read by academics and postgraduate students, who go on to nominate those they consider the best for the shortlist.