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Shortlist for 100-year-old literary prize revealed

Four works of fiction and four biographies are in the running for the James Tait Black awards.

The James Tait Black literary awards are celebrating their 100th year (Hannah McKay/PA)
The James Tait Black literary awards are celebrating their 100th year (Hannah McKay/PA)

A novel inspired by the mind of computer scientist Alan Turing is among the contenders for a historic literary prize.

Murmur by Will Eaves is one of four novels competing for the £10,000 James Tait Black award for fiction, now in its 100th year.

It is joined on the shortlist by Sight by Jessie Greengrass, Crudo by Olivia Laing, and Heads Of The Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires.

  • Murmur - Will Eaves
  • Sight - Jessie Greengrass
  • Crudo - Olivia Laing
  • Heads Of The Colored People - Nafissa Thompson-Spires

In the biography category, In Extremis: The Life Of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum is competing for the £10,000 prize with Natives: Race And Class In The Ruins Of Empire by Akala, The Life Of Stuff: A Memoir About The Mess We Leave Behind by Susannah Walker, and The Catalogue Of Shipwrecked Books: Young Columbus And The Quest For A Universal Library by Edward Wilson-Lee.

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

Fiction judge Dr Alex Lawrie, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “These four books are stylish, witty, and experimental.

“I’m thrilled that in this centenary year our shortlist reflects the very best that fiction can offer.”

Biography judge Dr Simon Cooke, also from the university, said: “In searching, eloquent, and formally inventive explorations of their subjects, these four books ask questions about the way all of us live our lives.”

The annual prizes have been presented since 1919, after Janet Tait Black, part of the threadmaking family J & P Coats, made a provision in her will for the awards in memory of her husband James.

A creative writing prize has been introduced to mark the centenary, with £1,500 for the author of the best short story by a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh.

The winning student will also be given a mentoring opportunity with last year’s fiction winner, Eley Williams.

PA

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