The 2018 Rathbones Folio Prize

In anticipation of the 2018 Rathbones Folio Prize being awarded on 8 May, we are giving you the chance to read a sample from each of the eight shortlisted books.

The Rathbones Folio Prize is the only British prize for the 'book of the year'. It is open to all forms of literature written in English – fiction, non-fiction and poetry alike – and the sole criterion for judgment is excellence. The year’s judges are Jim Crace, Nikesh Shukla and Kate Summerscale, and they were given only one instruction: to identify the eight books published in the last year that, in their eyes, came closest to achieving perfection.

Over the course of eight days, we will be releasing a sample from each of the following shortlisted books: Anything Is Possible – Elizabeth Strout (Viking), Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney (Faber), Exit West – Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton), Ghosts of the Tsunami – Richard Lloyd Parry (Jonathan Cape), Once Upon A Time In The East: A Story of Growing Up – Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus), Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor (4th Estate), The Day That Went Missing – Richard Beard (Harvill Secker), and White Tears – Hari Kunzru (Hamish Hamilton).

About the author

This year the shortlisted authors are: Elizabeth Strout, Sally Rooney, Mohsin Hamid, Richard Lloyd Parry, Xiaolu Guo, Jon McGregor, Richard Beard, and Hari Kunzru.

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Why We Like It

  • An exciting opportunity to read the shortlisted works of one of the world’s most renowned literary prizes
  • A chance to explore a shortlist of great books unrestricted by category or genre
  • Uniquely, all the books considered for the Rathbones Folio Prize are nominated by an academy of more than 250 distinguished authors, which includes the likes of Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, Zadie Smith, JM Coetzee, Carol Ann Duffy and William Dalrymple

The Rathbones Folio Prize

The Folio Prize was awarded in 2014 and 2015 and paused in 2016 while a long-term partner was sought to support the prize as well as a widened programme. Rathbones came on board to provide that support and ensure the continuation of the Prize and the introduction of new literary initiatives.

Rathbones’s sponsorship has enabled an expansion of the important work of the Folio Academy. There is no equivalent body of international writers anywhere in the world, and the programmes Rathbones support include the Rathbones Folio Mentorships, in which gifted teenage writers receives one-to-one mentorship from a prominent writer over the course of a year, and the Rathbones Folio Sessions: stimulating conversations, on books and the ideas they generate, which take place at literary festivals around the country.

The winner of the inaugural Rathbones Folio Prize in 2017 was Hisham Matar for THE RETURN: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between. His book has been hailed as a profound and powerful memoir of his search, both physical and psychological, for his missing father. In his acceptance speech, Hisham observed that ‘we have always needed the complexities, the depth and distance that literature introduces into our lives; perhaps we have never needed them more.’


Rathbones, in business since 1742, is one of the UK’s leading investment managers, and it continues to move with the times, blending new ideas and the latest technology with long-standing investment experience. Rathbones began life as a family business and is now part of Rathbone Brothers PLC, a FTSE 250 listed company. Rathbones has a long history of supporting the community. As well as sponsoring the Rathbones Folio programmes, Rathbones is also working with The Pigeonhole to pilot a digital reading programme for schools. Visit to find out more.

How it works

An extract from each of the 8 shortlisted books will be delivered to your Pigeonhole bookshelf every other day over the course of 16 days. You will be able to read using your iOS or Android app, plus you can read on our web reader. You will receive an email letting you know when each stave is available.

We believe that shared reading leads to new ideas and connections. That’s why we have a dynamic commenting system which allows in-text discussion between our readers. Post a comment and all your fellow readers will be able to respond. You can also choose to receive notifications (customise them here) when someone responds to your comment, or, additionally, whenever a comment is left in the book.

Any questions? Drop us a line on


Join our commmunity of readers or read with friends in your own private book club.


And read it in bite-sized instalments – called staves – that fit busy modern lives.


Save your favourite bits and leave thoughts to connect with fellow readers.


Beautiful extras in the margins immerse you in the world of each book.

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