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

booksThe 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 on the Warwick Prize for Writing, and 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.


              - ENDS


              For further information about The Warwick Prize for Writing, please contact:

              Matt Railton or James Douglas at Four Colman Getty on 020 3697 4262 / 020 3697 4267



              For further information about the University of Warwick, please contact:

              Peter Dunn 024 76523708 /


              Notes to Editors

              • The University of Warwick is one of the UK’s leading research universities. It is consistently ranked in the top 10 of all the University league tables produced by UK national newspapers, and is ranked 7th among the UK's 100 universities for quality of research

              • The £25,000 Warwick Prize is entirely self-funded by the University of Warwick. The University is able to make such an investment as it generates the majority of its own income

              • The Monash Warwick Alliance was established in 2012 and offers a new approach to global higher education. It aims to help meet the increasing student, industry and government demand for universities to produce graduates with a global education. To find out more about the alliance visit:

              • The Warwick Commission on Cultural Value was a one-year Commission launched in November 2013, chaired by Vikki Heywood CBE. A diverse group of cultural leaders and University of Warwick academics were invited to develop new policy thinking and practical recommendations to enable the flourishing and long-term sustainability of culture and creativity in Britain. In February 2015, its findings were published in Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth, reinforcing the creative industries as an


              integral part of the UK economy, highlighting its importance in generating economic and cultural wellbeing in Britain, and the need for further investment


              About the judging panel

              A.L. Kennedy (Chair)

              A.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 15 books: 6 novels, 6 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

              Her new book “All The Rage” – a collection of short stories – was published by Jonathan Cape in spring 2014. It will soon appear in the US and Canada. She is also a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV and film.

              She writes for a number of UK and overseas publications and has a blog with The Guardian Online.

              Gavin Francis

              Gavin Francis is a practising GP and the author of True North and Empire Antarctica; the latter was winner of Scottish Book of the Year 2013, and shortlisted for the Costa Prize and Ondaatje Prize. He writes regularly for the Guardian and the London Review of Books and his next book, Adventures in Human Being will be released in May 2015.

              Robert Macfarlane

              Robert Macfarlane is the author of Mountains of the Mind (2003), The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012) and Holloway (2013). His books have won numerous prizes, been widely translated, and adapted for television and radio. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In 2013 he chaired the jury for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction; the same year his book The Old Ways was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize.

              Fiona Shaw

              Fiona Shaw is one of the most recognised actors of her generation, known for both her theatre work (Hedda Gabler, Medea, Mother Courage) and for her film work (Harry Potter series, Three Men and A Little Lady).

              In addition to her highly praised acting work Fiona has recently directed Riders to the Sea, Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers and The Marriage of Figaro for English National Opera, and The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne, which will also be revived for the Deutsche Oper, Berlin in November 2014.

              Tony Wheeler

              A trek across Asia on the ‘hippie trail’ of the early 1970s led Tony Wheeler to write the first Lonely Planet guide and the New York Times to describe him as ‘the trailblazing patron saint of the world’s backpackers and adventure travellers.’

              Since departing Lonely Planet Tony has been involved with the Planet Wheeler Foundation’s work in South-East Asia and East Africa and Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas. Tony is also a director of Global Heritage Fund which works to protect and develop archaeological sites in the developing world.

              His most recent book, Dark Lands, is a follow up to Bad Lands, his journey along George W Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ and assorted other bad countries.


              About the University of Warwick’s 50th anniversary

              In less than fifty years since being founded Warwick has become one of the UK’s best universities, consistently at the top of UK league tables, and rapidly climbing the international league tables of world class universities.

              A key driver of the Warwick success story so far is our entrepreneurial spirit, our relevance to society and our close links with business and industry. We create new ways of thinking and achieving: making us stand out, and creating an inspiring place to study and undertake research. Warwick has come a long way in a short space of time, and our success is driven by the exceptional talent of our staff, students and alumni, and of course the continuing support and commitment of our partners in the wider community.

              The University of Warwick will mark its 50th anniversary in 2015 with a year of exciting events and activities, the centrepiece of which will be the Festival of the Imagination which will take place on campus on 16-17 October 2015. The Festival will showcase the work we do at Warwick through a diverse and lively programme of events, talks, demonstrations and discussions, all focused around the central theme Imagining the Future.

              Further information:

              Peter Dunn, Tel: 024 76523708 Email: