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Love, loss and longing: the Warwick Prize for Writing 2015 announces shortlist

The Warwick Prize for Writing announces today, 2 October 2015, its shortlist of six titles under consideration for the £25,000 biennial literary award. The prize, which is run by the University of Warwick, is uniquely international and cross-disciplinary award, open to any genre or form of writing. The theme for this year’s prize is ‘Instinct’.

The shortlist, announced at a special event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival by judge Robert Macfarlane, is:

• We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)
• Her Birth by Rebecca Goss (Carcanet)
• Redeployment by Phil Klay (Canongate)
• A Man In Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Harvill Secker)
• Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Virago)
• Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker (Chatto & Windus)

This year’s shortlist deals poignantly and passionately with human instinct, the lens through which this year’s titles have been considered. Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Marilynne Robinson’s Lila grapple with the unescapable legacy of atypical childhood experiences, while the residual effects of trauma are explored are explored through the loss of a child in Rebecca Goss’ Her Birth and the horror of war in Phil Klay’s Redeployment.
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Man in Love, from the bestselling autobiographical fiction series My Struggle, and Mark Vanhoenacker’s love letter to commercial aviation Skyfaring round off the list, which despite the shared theme is formally very diverse, with short stories, poetry and prose all represented.

In addition to winning the £25,000 monetary prize, the winner will be awarded the opportunity to take up a short placement at the University of Warwick.
The judging panel for the 2015 prize is chaired by Warwick Associate Professor, alumna and author A L Kennedy, who is joined by author and academic Robert Macfarlane, actress and director Fiona Shaw, Warwick alumnus and Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler and physician and writer Gavin Francis.

On announcing the shortlist, the chair of judges, AL Kennedy comments:
‘The judges were excited by this year's chosen topic of instinct, its variety of interpretations and expressions. We are delighted by the shortlist and the ability of all the authors included to work within their chosen forms, to explore the full breadth of human nature and experience. We feel all the authors included offer readers unique and rich experiences, quality writing and the consolation of real contact with other, remarkable minds.’

Sir Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick comments:
‘At a time when research and investment in the humanities in Higher Education is threatened, The Warwick Prize for Writing is an expression of the University of Warwick’s deep commitment to supporting excellence in the arts. The prize celebrates writers at the very top of their practice whilst providing inspiration for our next generation of talent. We look forward to inviting the winner of this year’s prize to take up a placement at the university in the year ahead.'

The Warwick Prize for Writing was founded in 2009 and is run by the University of Warwick. The nominations process was expanded to include Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013 following the formation of the Monash Warwick Alliance. Students and staff at both universities were invited to make nominations alongside publisher submissions.

Naomi Klein was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2009, for her book The Shock Doctrine, an exposé of disaster capitalism. The 2011 prize was awarded to Peter Forbes for Dazzled and Deceived, a cultural history of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art and warfare. The prize was awarded to a poet for the first time in 2013, to Alice Oswald for Memorial.

The winner of the 2015 Warwick Prize for Writing will be announced on Tuesday 10 November at a ceremony in London.

The University of Warwick is an active champion and key enabler of the arts and emerging writing talent. Former Warwick graduates include Jonathan Edwards, Emily Hasler and Claire Trevian. In February 2015, The Warwick Commission on Cultural Value, chaired by Vikki Heywood CBE and made up of a diverse group of cultural leaders and Warwick academics published a report entitled Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth. The report highlighted the creative industries as an integral part of the UK economy, stressing their importance in generating economic and cultural wellbeing in Britain.

The Warwick Writing Programme, founded in 1996, is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Europe. It is an internationally-acclaimed programme drawing students and staff from across the globe. Its faculty includes renowned authors from a variety of disciplines and genres such as Ian Sansom, Jonathan Skinner and Maureen Freely.


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Find out about previous winners

Order a copy of our 2015 shortlist booklet